Being a parent can be a joy, but it's also a tough job. No parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. Even loving parents sometimes do things they don't mean to do, like yell at a child or call a child a bad name. But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of abuse doesn't start.
Children take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your life, such as worries about your job, your bills or your relationships, or problems with alcohol or drugs. To be a good parent, you have to take care of yourself. That means getting help for your problems.
There's not just one right way to raise children. And there's no such thing as a perfect parent-or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:
- Show your love. Every day, tell your children: "I love you. You're special to me." Give lots of hugs and kisses.
- Listen when your children talk. Listening to your children tells them that you think they're important and that you're interested in what they have to say.
- Make your children feel safe. Comfort them when they're scared. Show them you've taken steps to protect them.
- Provide order in their lives. Keep a regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.
- Praise your children. When your children learn something new or behave well, tell them you're proud of them.
- Criticize the behavior, not the child. When your child makes a mistake, don't say, "You were bad." Instead, explain what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without looking isn't safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both ways for cars."
- Be consistent. Your rules don't have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If two parents are raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby sitters and relatives know, and follow, your family rules.
- Spend time with your children. Do things together, like reading, walking, playing and cleaning house. What children want most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually their way of getting your attention.
There are many ways to get good parenting advice. Sign up for parenting classes, talk to your family doctor, a minister, a priest or a counselor.
The information provided in this web site or via links, is for informational purposes only. It does not take the place of, nor is it intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a professional.