If you have a child, you have one of the most important jobs a person will ever have—being a parent. One minute, you have only yourself to worry about and the next, you have an infant resting in your arms who absolutely needs your nonstop undivided attention.
And guess what?
That 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week job of parenting doesn’t come with a manual. This life-changing event of becoming a parent is a blessing and a joy, but it is also a job that we have to figure out on our own. Everything we do in parenthood can affect the life of another person—a little person who is completely dependent on us.
That’s some serious stuff.
So, what can you do to be a positive parental influence on your children?
Boost your child’s self-esteem
From infancy, and during the various stages of their growth, your children listen to your voice inflections. Like a mirror, they see themselves through your eyes. The way you deal with different situations will mold them through adolescence and stay with them into adulthood. So, what can you do to boost their self-esteem?
Give them praise when they accomplish something big or small. Encouraging words like “way to go” or “you did an excellent job” can fill your children with feelings of self-worth and accomplishment. Your positive reinforcement will make them try harder and view difficulties as possibilities, instead of obstacles.
Hearing positive words can influence them into adulthood. The mother of the renowned artist, Pablo Picasso, was a positive influence in his life. In his biography, he wrote, “When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”
If you want to keep your child’s self-esteem on the right path, DO NOT compare them to their peers. Every child is different, and the way they process or learn is different, as well. If your children are having a hard time learning something, try to teach them in another way. Be creative and patient. Changing your teaching strategy could be all they need to succeed in the area where they are struggling.
Give your child some independence to make decisions. Asking questions such as, “Would you like to play with this toy or that toy?” will give them a chance to decide for themselves. Be careful not to give them too many options. Telling toddlers to pick any toy from the toy box might confuse them and create anxiety because that decision-making process is more complex than choosing between two objects. As your children grow older and become used to making more complex choices, give them more power to make those choices. Remember, let them grow at their own pace.
Establish regular play time with your children
In this day and age, we’re all busy. With long work hours, commuting time, making dinner, doing laundry and making sure homework gets done, we find little time to hang out with our kids and “play.”
Schedule recreational time with your children. At least one night a week, designate that time with them. Without cellular phones or distractions, just spend time together doing what they want to do. This planned time with you will make them feel special and give them something exciting to look forward to on a regular basis.
Reward good behavior with positive words
So many times, parents only notice when their children are misbehaving. It’s then that they discipline them. When their kids are well-behaved, they’re happy about it but less verbal than when their child is unruly. Isn’t that normal? Just watch the news. The media’s focus is on the negative.
So, take notice when your children are behaving. Tell them that you appreciate the way they are playing nicely or keeping their voices down in the house. Kids want to be acknowledged, and sometimes, when they act out, it’s their way of getting your attention. Especially if they feel you don’t see them when they’re behaving nicely. Notice them and praise them. Those kind words will go a long way.
Create a safe haven in your home
Have you ever been to someone’s house and felt the negative vibes as soon as you walked in? Creating a positive atmosphere for your children will allow them to have a place where they feel safe and loved. Nurturing an environment where children feel protected will give them room to grow emotionally. That warmth and love will provide stability and positive thoughts, which will, in turn, help with their self-esteem.
Set limits and be consistent with discipline
My adult child told me once, “I liked that we had rules in our house when I was growing up.”
Believe it or not, children want rules and limits that allow them to grow at a healthy pace. They may test those limits, but that’s their way of exploring what behavior is acceptable and what is not.
Be consistent with your rules and let your discipline fit your child’s actions. Encourage positive behavior such as no name calling, no hitting, and sharing with others. Limitations may include: No video games until homework is done or no playing outside until they’ve completed their chores.
Set up your system and stick to it. If you allow your children to play outside without doing chores on one day and then try to enforce the rules the next, it may confuse your children. Set the rules and positively enforce them.
I hope these five steps keep you going in the right direction.
“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.”