I have often asked myself – how can I be a better parent, as being a good parent is easier said than done! We often take for granted that parenting comes naturally and there’s no need to learn how to be a better parent.
It sure does come naturally. We all do have our own parenting instincts, whether we are married, bachelors, biological parents, or even foster parents. However, the question is about the skills, the knowledge, and the use of methods and techniques to be a better parent.
In today’s post, I will be sharing the information about the various ways to be a good parent hoping that you can help any curious parent that comes to you with the question asking – How can I be a better parent?
“There is no such thing as a perfect parent so just be a real one.” ~ Sue Atkins.
I can understand a few readers who may not have children, and if you’re one of them then I’m sure this post will take you down the memory lane. You will be able to relive and relate how your parents went about the task of parenting, and the ways they adopted to be a better parent when they had you as a child in their lives!
So, let’s embark on this journey (because it’s a long post!!) of parenthood for those who are parents. And for those who are not married it sure is going to be a learning experience for you.
What does it mean to be a Better Parent?
As parents, we are always looking around for ways to get better as we want the best for our children.
Better parenting is all about striving to be become responsible parents and make improvements with the way you deal with your children. It’s not about being perfect, rather it’s about being a real parent, in the true sense.
It isn’t about being better than some other parent either, instead, being a better parent means to develop the parenting skills and grow as a parent yourself.
If you have come up with a question like – How can I be a better parent; you clearly demonstrate that you’ve the interest, aptitude, and the right attitude to be a better parent, now all you require is trying out some of the simplest of things.
For better parenting, try spending more quality time with your kids, spreading more joy, showing more patience, having fewer arguments in the house, and learn to appreciate, love, and understand your kids.
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” ~ Anonymous
I somehow never managed to ask my mother how she came up with ideas to be a responsible parent. But I learned her ways of parenting from what I experienced as a child, and now that I am a parent myself, being a better parent is what I am trying to be with my kids.
Ways to be a Better Parent
Preparing for parenthood is the most beautiful experience and moment in one’s life. Better parenting is all about watching your kids grow into well groomed adults and human beings.
Starting right from childhood, to getting them into school and then college, brings you many cherished and happy moments. But yes, better parenting is all about facing the difficulties also – that accompany these happy moments.
So, for those of you who wonder how to be a better parent; here are a few tired and tested ways to be a good parent:
1- Recognize your children
Being a good parent is all about recognizing and knowing your children, as you are the foremost person to know everything about them. However, you need to take the time to earn the title of knowing your children.
“Be supportive…You want to be a part of your kids’ lives.” ~ Apolo Anton Ohno
How to be a better parent is all about paying attention to everything that your children does or needs, including their interests, their behavior patterns, their likes- dislikes, and the smallest of things without them having to tell you.
Cherished memories: I remember the time when I was a child, my parents would just have to look into my eyes and they would know what I wanted. At times words are not needed, as the eyes say everything. Similarly, I can make out what my kids want, without them really having to say anything to me.
2-Love your children unconditionally
One of the most important ways to be a better parent is to love your children unconditionally by expressing your love and affection, and loving them for who they are and not what you want or expect them to be.
You can boost the confidence of your children by simple ways like showing a little encouragement, giving them a gentle hug, and appreciating them, either with a smile, nod, or just about anything that makes them feel loved!
“Children need love, especially when they “do not deserve” it.” ~ Harold Hulbert
Tell them how much you love them, every single day if you want to be a better parent, as they feel secure and loved this ways. Not to miss the much needed hugs and kisses that make a world of a difference to them.
Remember, they are still children and need to see signs of affection that could even be a simple pat on the back or a squeeze on the hand to show that you care. It has been scientifically proved that physical affection from those you trust reduces stress and elevates the mood.
“Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry.” ~ Alvin Price
Being children they might make mistakes or do things you don’t like. In such cases, even though you are angry and upset, let them know you are disappointed and you dislike their action, but show that you still love them just as much.
Cherished memories: As far as I remember, I have always been kissed, hugged, pampered, and simply loved from the day I was born, right up till now. I can never forget those memories of me in my parent’s arms, nor can I forget their love for me even when I made so many mistakes in my life. Similarly, I try to love my kids for what they are and alongside I keep trying to make them better.
3- Appreciate and praise your children
If you are wondering about how to be a better parent, you need to remember that better parenting also includes learning to appreciate and praise your child for their smallest of efforts.
Being a good parent is also about learning to compliment your children when they do something good, or appreciating their efforts. They feel happy that their work is appreciated and this builds up their self-esteem and self-confidence, motivating and inspiring them to keep getting better.
“Praise the young and they will blossom.” ~ Irish Proverb
Better parenting is also about avoiding comparing your children to others, especially siblings, cousins, or friends. Remember, every child is unique and special and may have some positives and negatives.
Learn to celebrate their differences and teach them it’s alright to be different. Being a better parent includes encouraging them to pursue their dreams and appreciating them for taking decisions in their life.
“If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.” ~ Haim Ginott
How to be a better parent includes knowing that your child is not your extension, instead, your child is a separate individual under your care, so don’t expect the world out of them!
Instead, find simple ways to be happy by simply being with your children, loving and appreciating them in their journey towards life.
Cherished memories: Going down memory lane, I remember the time I scored an average grade in my class, yet my parents made me feel that I had topped and done extremely well. So much so, we went out to celebrate! Similarly, I try and boost the morale of my kids by appreciating their small deeds, actions, gestures, and efforts.
4- Never criticize your children
One of the important aspects about how to be a better parent is to avoid criticizing your children, and instead try learning to focus on their behavior.
The duty of being a good parent is to check your children when they go wrong, though there is a way of going about it. Be a better parent by avoiding humiliating them publicly, instead taking them aside and scolding them in private.
“Stop trying to perfect your child, but keep trying to perfect your relationship with him.” ~ Dr. Henker
If your child acts in an unacceptable manner, then instead of shouting or criticizing, as a parent be serious, stern, assertive, and tell him or her that such behavior is unacceptable and suggest alternatives or ways to get better. They may hate you that moment, but know within you meant well.
“If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent.” ~ Bette Davis
Cherished memories: I still don’t recollect a moment in time when my parents ever criticized or humiliated me. Yes, they did scold me when I was wrong but always explained how to get better. Similarly, I haven’t criticized my kids till date, though I keep working at improving their behavior.
5- Communicate with your children
Communication is the key if you are wondering about how to be a better parent, as it is all about talking and listening to your children.
One of the ways to be a better parent is simply to listen to your children, and hear all that they have to say. You need to involve yourself in their life by expressing an interest in what they say.
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” ~ Robert Fulghum
Remember that poor communication leads to relationship problems of any kind, but if your children know you are interested in their life, they will come to you with their problems as they know they will be heard.
Part of being a good parent is to know what all is going on in your children’s lives by asking them about things they did at school, college, or at their work place.
Or simple interactions like if they need your help or if they are troubled and would like to discuss about the things.
“Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.” ~ Gary Smalley
Cherished memories: I distinctly remember the beautiful communication channel I had with my parents when I was young, which made me learn to be more expressive and responsive. Even though I am married and away from them, their calls and art of listening still remains clear in my memory. My parents heard everything and were always there in my time of need. Similarly, we ensure there is a talking-listening time in our family so that we all discuss things about each other or the day in general.
6- Spend quality time with your children
If you are wondering how to be a better parent, think about giving your children your time, which would be your best gift to them. You need to take out quality family time for your children and love them with all your heart.
“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” ~ Jesse Jackson
If you have more than one child, you could divide your time equally between them or even spend it as a family together. Being a good parent includes setting aside a few days in the month to take your child to the parks, museums, movies, library, picnics, or just about anywhere they want to go.
Another way to be a good parent is to spend time by teaching kids to do their home-work, or visiting their schools and meeting their teacher.
“The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.” ~ O. A. Battista
Cherished memories: I clearly remember the awesome family meals we all shared and my sister would always be the chatter-box of the family- always full of beans and had loads of stories to share! My parents ensured that every weekend was outing or fun time and our vacations were well organized and planned. Similarly, I am trying hard to work at this point with my kids, as I feel I still need to spend more time with them.
7- Avoid arguments or heated discussions in front of your children
Another way to be a better parent is to avoid heated discussions in front of your children. As a better parent, you need to move out of the room to discuss and sort out things.
This is because your children are quick to mimic what they see their parents doing, so don’t argue with your spouse or anyone else in front of the children.
“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” ~ C.G. Jung
Additionally, children learn to argue and talk rudely with each other the same way they hear their parents argue and talk.
Be a better parent by showing your kids that even intense discussion or disagreements can be resolved by talking things out in a peaceful manner.
Better parenting includes making your children feel secure when they see their parents argue. Thus, you should try and portray your love for one another in front of your children, and become best friends with your spouse.
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” ~ Theodore Hesburgh
Cherished memories: Just as all couples have their ups and downs; my parents had their share of arguments. But they were very careful and made sure none of us were in the room, or we were sleeping. We actually never heard them quarrel! Similarly, we try to not talk rudely or argue when our kids are around. Sometimes when things are uncontrollable and if there is an argument, we make sure it is resolved in a good manner within a few minutes.
8- Be a role model by setting an example
The simplest and easiest way to be a better parent is to be a role model, and do things that you want your children to pick up.
Better parenting is essentially teaching your children how to behave by setting a good example. Hence, when your children are around, you need to be careful about the words you use, actions you make, and deeds you do.
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” ~ Joyce Maynard
Remember that young children are like sponges, they soak in everything. So, if you want to teach your child about charity, then get involved into giving and charity yourself. Alongside explain to your children the importance of giving.
Being a good parent includes teaching your children about the daily chores and seeking their help when required. Get them involved, and watch them grow and develop into helpful parents.
“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.” ~ David Bly
Remember, your child looks up to you, so try being a role model and portray the character you wish your child should adopt. Children learn best by seeing examples, rather than verbal explanations.
Cherished memories: I remember the first time my mother aroused my interest in baking cakes and the amount of fun we had. She was baking at one end and I at the other, so I was watching her and following her step-by-step. Similarly, I try and get my kids involved in the kitchen on weekends to help me out to cook something interesting, or help and clean up the house (which of course they don’t like!!)
9- Allow your children to make decisions
Better parenting involves allowing your children to experience life for themselves, and learning to take certain decisions that will help them with their life later.
“If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.” ~ Brian Tracy
One of the ways to be a better parent is to avoid taking decisions for your children all the time. They need to learn to live and face the consequences of the choices they make or take in their life.
Once they learn that they are responsible for their own actions and must bear the good or bad consequences, it helps them to become good problem solvers and decision makers later in adulthood.
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” ~ Anne Frank
Cherished memories: I was always given the freedom to make my own choices or decisions, whether it was regarding what I wanted to purchase, the course I wanted to follow, or the place I wanted to visit. My parents were always beside me, though they let me decide things for myself, which built up my self-confidence and self-esteem. Similarly, this is another factor I am trying to instill into my kids presently!
10- Some other points
There are so many other points that come to mind when I think about how can I be a better parent that I want to pen down, but I know this post has once again become too long (sorry for that!), so I will be quick to briefly mention a few more of them here-
“Never fear spoiling children by making them too happy. Happiness is the atmosphere in which all good affections grow.” ~ Thomas Bray
- Being a good parent includes setting boundaries or making rules about bedtimes or putting restrictions if your child goes overboard. Kids may rebel initially, but within they enjoy knowing that their parents are concerned for their well being.
- Better parenting includes encouraging responsibility by giving them jobs to do and rewarding them for their efforts. You could give them money, more play-time or more TV time! But if what you asked isn’t done, then their privileges should be revoked!
- You can be better parent by being consistent with your children and earning their respect. When you threaten them with a punishment, ensure you follow it through and avoid self-contradiction.
- Another way to be a better and responsible parent is to teach them what is right and wrong. As parents, you need to instill gratitude and moral values, as well as the rituals and spiritual practices into them right from the time when they are young.
- Ensure your kids are healthy and fit by making sure that they have nutritious and well balanced meals. Stop them from eating junk food except on a few occasions, and try discouraging them or limiting their intake of aerated drinks or alcohol.
- Being a good parent includes understanding teenagers and their needs, and also making sure that your children don’t fall into bad company, don’t smoke, drink, or use drugs. Ensure you know your children’s friends and the group they interact with is good for them. Better and responsible parenting includes taking care of all these issues also.
“As your kids grow they may forget what you said, but won’t forget how you made them feel.” ~ Kevin Heath
So, for all those who were thinking about – how can I be a better parent, I am sure you found some worthwhile answers in the tips mentioned above.
You don’t have to be afraid to be a parent, and remember parenting doesn’t stop when a child grows up. In fact being a good parent is a life-long role and something that you keep learning as the years roll by. Better parenting is challenging, but is also rewarding and an enjoyable journey.
I loved this following quote that am sure most of you would relate to:
“If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.” ~Diane Loomans
When I read these lines, I do feel that may be I left out something and couldn’t give the best to my children. But I’d console myself that at least I tried my best with whatever knowledge and information I had. And, I wish I had this repository earlier so that I could improve my parenting skills.
Over to you –
If you are a parent, then did you ever question yourself or ask that – how can I be a better parent? What steps would you suggest parents should take for being a good parent? Share your experiences about how to be a better parent, or your childhood memories about how your parents dealt with you in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Photostock
Posted on: March 16th, 2012
Last Updated on: March 17th, 2015