How to Raise Happy, Self-Confident Children

The world can be a stressful place, but it doesn’t have to affect you and your family. Here are some of the best ways to raise happy children who will be ready to take on the world with a smile on their face If you want to be a successful parent, you need to take time to fully understand what your children need in order to be self-confident, happy, and healthy. Here some tips that can help you be that successful parent ~

Make Your Child a Priority

Some parents show their children how much they love and value them by working hard and providing for their families. This is a wonderful thing to do, but children don’t always realize that it is for them. The most precious item that you can ever give your kids is your time. That includes reading books aloud with them, or in the case of younger children, having them read their favorite stories to you. It also includes sharing your stories and adventures with them. You can talk to them about what mommy and daddy were like when you first met, or what you did when when you were a child. Stepping away from work every night and having dinner with your family shows how much you value them. Simply showing up for a school play, every once in a while, is also great. When your child gets older, they will value the experiences they had with you more than the memory of the latest and greatest toy they had. Be physical with your children. Hold your children, touch them, kiss them. When your children know that they are loved by you, then they will learn to love themselves. That includes learning to feel good about themselves, to feel attractive, and to lived confident happy lives.

Empower Your Child

Allow your child some freedom; let them try things on their own. For instance, small children may love sorting socks, children in elementary school may like picking out new fruits and vegetables at the store, and older children may want to try their hand at cooking. Keep your child safe, but also allow them to try new things with your support. It will help them enhance their self-esteem, feel a little freedom, and learn how to take care of their own problems. This will help both you and your child in the future.

Help Your Child Learn

Children spend a large amount of time at school, and doing homework. If they are fall behind, it means that time spent in the classroom will likely be stressful. Help them out by sitting with them as they do their homework, and answering questions. If they are behind, try not to make them more stressed about the situation. Since many subjects build on previous knowledge, they may just need a refresher on a previously covered topic. They can easily bounce back with your help.  Your kids learn by example, so if you want your children to be healthy, fit, attractive, and kind – then you need to live that way yourself. You want to show your kids that the two most important people in their lives, mommy and daddy, share a happy and healthy life, eat well, and loving communication. Children want to feel proud of their parents – and it’s part of your job to make them feel proud.

Teach Your Child Balance

Get involved in activities that your kids are interested in. Whatever age your children are, start to enthusiastically play with them during these activities. Whether it’s spending a few moments hand-painting with them, or throwing around the ball each afternoon. If you have teenagers then spend time talking about their interests. It’s easy to keep putting this off – so don’t procrastinate, start today! If your child shows interest in an activity, help them pursue this activity. Karate lessons, playing the piano, soccer games, they are a great way to get your child involved in a new activity. It also lets them meet other children, and follow their passion. But be careful not to let your child (or yourself) get overwhelmed. Following passions is great, but your child will also need to relax once in a while. Teaching your child how to unwind can be just as valuable as driving them to yet another lesson. Planning a family movie night or a fun outing can show your child that they can work hard, and then play hard too.

Limit How Often Your Child Sits in Front of the TV…Or Computer

Children cannot always process the graphic images they see on TV or the computer. They may be watching a perfectly innocent show, but the commercials in between may contain graphic images. You may be watching the weather when the next story is about a murder. These images are difficult to avoid completely. However by limiting your child’s exposure, you can limit what they see. Try spending more time interacting with your child. As a bonus, interacting with your child is a lot better for their development than any educational game, video, or device. In a simple conversation over dinner, your child picks up new vocabulary, learns how to form sentences, and absorbs more about life (and their parents) in general.

Set a Good Example

If you have a case of road rage in the car while on the way to school, the other drivers will likely not hear what you say, but your child in the backseat is definitely listening. Having an overall positive attitude will set a good example for your child. Children often emulate their parents when they grow up and start their own families. If you want your child to have successful relationships, show them how to do so by treating your husband or wife with love and respect. Also, bring them along as you gather coats for the homeless, or simply let them see you dance around the living room. Being a day-to-day role model for your children will help them lead a happy life. It’s critically important to be honest with your kids, at all times. When you show them that you have integrity and are respectful with honesty, they will want to emulate that aspect of you. Start listening more attentively to your children. You want them to have absolutely no doubt that you are genuinely interested in them, their feelings, and their lives.

Be open and friendly to your child’s friends, and encourage them to hang out at your house. Many parents are uptight, and have too many rules that will make your child’s friends feel unwelcome, and in turn will damage your own child’s self-esteem. But, if you show your child that their friends are welcome and that you accept their choice of friends in the home, then that sends a message of acceptance and trust of about their decisions. When you believe in your children then they will learn to believe in themselves.

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Toilet Training

Toilet Training the Brazelton Way

Proudly reposted from: Caitlin Hopkins Murray’s Blog

A very short little book, which while not being the best read, does hammer in to your head some very solid parenting suggestions about potty training- allow this step in the child’s life to be the child’s accomplishment, not yours, and do not feel socially pressured to begin before babe is ready! Begin when your babe is ready, and your chances of true success are incomparably better. The rest of the book is conceptual with factual evidence to support this opinion, along with some explanations about the steps kids take when they are naturally discovering and exploring their bodies. In other words, it gives you specific examples to illustrate what their behavior will look like when they are prepared to make the leap from diapers, to pull ups, to big kid undies. I’d certainly recommend it to any first time parent who has never been around a toddler who is training, or who had a bad experience themselves- again, lots of emphasis on making this a loving and happy thing! Not the most “readable” and often super repetitive, but a very useful parenting guide none the less.

Why Does My Child Not Listen to Me?

“Why does my child listen to you and not to me,” I was recently asked. Lack of consistency immediately comes to mind. A parent absolutely must stick by what they say…EVERY TIME. Yes, I now it’s a pain in the ass. Yes, I know it gets tiring being the “bad guy” all of the time. But if you want a child to behave you simply must stick to your guns.

CONSISTENT PARENTING 

There are few principles of parenting more important than consistency. Living in a predictable environment is comforting to children. It makes them feel secure. This is achieved when parents conform to a regular pattern of rules and routines. When children live in an inconsistent environment, where rules are enforced one day but not the next, and when bedtime is at 8:00p.m. one night and 10:00p.m. the next night, they become confused. They also act out more and are more difficult to discipline.

ARE YOU AN INCONSISTENT PARENT?
It may be something that you never thought about. Do you make rules, but after an infraction you let the kids slide by without consequences? Do you say “no” to a request, but then back down and relent to a “yes” if your children persist and whine? Do you and your spouse disagree on the rules for the children? Does one spouse say “yes” and the other say “no” to the same request from your children? Do you make threats to your children, but you never really intend to follow through? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s probably room for improvement in the consistency department. With a firm tweak here and there in your parenting practices, you’ll notice a positive change in the behavior of your children. However, if you have been inconsistent in many ways for a long time, it will take patience and time as your children test your newly defined boundaries. Hang in there!

TYPES OF CONSISTENT PARENTING 
–Consistency of Rules
Explain your rules carefully and clearly to your children. Make sure they understand. Then explain the consequences for each rule. Most importantly, enforce the rules and consequences CONSISTENLY. Yes, that means each time!
–Consistency between Parents
Present a united front to your children. Spouses need to communicate with each other about rules and consequences for the children. Children always look for a kink in the armor between the parents, so make sure you agree on the rules. Children learn how to play one parent against the other, so parents should confer and agree on rules, requests, and discipline before sharing their decision with the children.
–Consistent Routines
Many family events require routines: bedtime, chores, meals, bath time, and school mornings. Children love routines (predictable events). For example, a child’s bedtime may involve getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, using the toilet, story time, prayers and a bedtime song. Bedtime should be at the same time each evening. When routines are consistent, children respond better.
–Divorced or Separated Parents
Continuity is important to children, especially during and after a divorce. When children alternate between two residences after a divorce or separation, the transition is made easier when similar routines are maintained. It’s extremely important for divorced parents to agree on a child’s bedtime, rules and discipline, nutrition and family routines (as mentioned above). The more things that are consistent in the two homes, the better for the child. No matter how contentious the relationship of the ex-spouses, the focus and needs of the children need to receive top priority.

DISCIPLINE IN 3 EASY STEPS (an excerpt from KID TIPS, by Tom McMahon)
1. EXPLAIN YOUR RULES CLEARLY
Children need firm limits; they actually find security in having boundaries. Explain your rules clearly and in a way the child can understand. For instance, to avoid misunderstanding, I often ask my six-year old to repeat what I have explained. Of course, don’t expect too much from your toddler; she cannot comprehend the meaning of rules and limits.
Children will respond better to rules if you explain the importance and reason for the rule. Try to remember how you felt when your parent gave you the old “Because I told you so” explanation.

2. EXPLAIN THE CONSEQUENCES
If your child balks at one of your rules or requests, explain what the consequence will be for not obeying. This offers your child a choice and, at least in our house, limits the verbal arguments. For example, my wife recently asked my daughter to pick up her toys by noon the next day. If she didn’t, my wife explained, “I’ll pick them up, but you won’t see them for three days.” This gave my daughter a choice: either pick up the toys or face the consequence.

3. BE CONSISTENT
My daughter decided to test my wife by not complying with her request to pick up the toys. As promised, promptly at noon the next day, my wife boxed up the toys. My daughter, wide-eyed in disbelief, watched silently as her mother disappeared with the toys. Since then, my daughter has picked up her toys when faced with a similar decision.

This example illustrates a key concept about discipline which babies have learned by their first birthday: A rule is not a rule unless it is enforced consistently. They quickly and skillfully learn how to test their parents and how to determine which rules they must take seriously.