Good parenting is a combination of role modeling, teaching and friendship. Basic parenting skills can help you retain your sense of humor while building your children's self-confidence and self-esteem. Consider the importance of these habits:
Be consistent. If you set guidelines for behavior, stick to them. Don't "give in" to whines or tantrums when you've already said, "No." Try changing the environment, or the subject, and remain positive. You're teaching your children boundaries that make sense -- without anger.
Follow through. Think before you set consequences for breaking the rules, because you must follow through if you want to be taken seriously. If you don't plan to carry out threats, don't make them. Have a plan for discipline; don't let your good or bad moods dictate your actions when it comes to your children.
Be specific. Don't make children read your mind. Be crystal clear when explaining what behavior you would like to see from them.
Learn to manage behavior. The secret: Children need to have your time, attention, praise and respect. There's just no substitute for YOU! A child who doesn't get enough positive attention will demand "negative" attention.
Remain patient. It takes time and practice, but your child will appreciate it.
Speak and listen with care. Try to listen more than you speak. Listen with your eyes and your heart. If a child feels understood, he will be more likely to listen when you speak, and respect what you say.
Let kids be kids -- and have a sense of humor! Kids make mistakes; it's how they learn. As long as they're not in danger, try to have a sense of humor when your plans go awry.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Runaway Switchboard.