Tip-a-licious Thursday

The 5 Keys to Being a Great Parent
By Lisa Pecos

For anyone who has never raised a child, the idea of parenting might seem like a rather simple thing on a day-to-day basis. After all—how complicated can it be? Just try to be a good role model, attend to your child's needs, and make sure your child learns the rules of acceptable behavior. But of course, as any parent knows, raising children is not so simple. On any given day, there is a set of complicated issues that can make even the most conscientious parent feel cowed and helpless. But at the same time, there are some general principles that can guide one's parenting choices and make things at least a little less complicate. If you are looking for guidance, here are a few key qualities that all great parents have in common.

1. Making the child feel big: The last thing any parent wants to do is give a child an overinflated sense of self-importance, but we do want our children to know that they are capable of anything and that they do not have to feel limited. From the parent's perspective, instilling this sense of self-confidence can seem difficult, but it is really just about gently nudging the child toward the great things he or she is capable of accomplishing.

2. Praise what is truly good: For many parents, especially first-time parents, there is an understandable tendency to give over-the-top praise for every single thing the child accomplishes, no matter how trivial. This is great for the child's self-esteem, but you also have to make sure you give him or her something to work toward.

3. Be consistent: There are many ways in which children's minds differ from adult's minds, but one of the most important is in the way children thrive under routine and order. When there are rules that are upheld consistently, with very few exceptions, children's natural tendency is to go along without hesitation. But if you are too lenient with your rules and give too many exceptions, the child has no reason to believe that the rules are worth taking seriously. That is where consistency comes in; no matter how hard it is, make your child know that rules are rules, and he or she will have no choice but to go along with them.

4. Be good: There is no underestimating the extent to which children pick up on their parents' behavior. And you cannot hide your own tendencies from your children. When people live together, there are very few secrets, and those secrets that do exist are not easily kept. So if you want to be the best parent possible, you have to set aside any harmful or self-destructive tendencies you may have and truly become the best person you can be. This may in fact be the most difficult part of being a good parent, but it also may be the most important.

5. Know your kids: Parenting guides have their uses, but you are ultimately the only one who knows your child. Approach all outside advice with a grain of salt; it comes from people who do not know your children as well as you do. Most of the time, if you think about who your children are, you can trust your instincts to determine the best course of action. There will come a time when knowing your kids will prove difficult, so make sure you are on the ball during the early years.
Lisa Pecos enjoys writing about topics in theparenting field. She believes in using natural remedies first, especially when you need tosoothe tummy aches.

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