Powerful Parenting: Building Relationships, Instilling Confidence, and Teaching Skills
As parents, you worry about the risks your children face and the choices they will have to make. But if you have a strong relationship with your children that is built on a foundation of trust and open communication, they are more likely to tell you about their problems and gain from your values.
If your children have confidence in themselves, they are more likely to handle situations assertively. If your children have self-management, relationship-building, and problem-solving skills, they are more likely to make safe and healthy choices. As a parent, you can help strengthen these areas of your children's lives.
Love Them for Who They Are
Unconditional acceptance of your children not only builds a strong relationship with them, but encourages them to have confidence and trust in themselves. Separate who your children are (their being) from what they do (their behavior). Remember, behavior can always change.
Help your children discover their interests and passions and encourage them to pursue their interests by providing opportunities and support.
Spend time with your children. This helps build strong relationships and provides opportunities for you to teach and model essential skills. Use words, gestures, and touch frequently to let your children know that you love them.
Take time to have extended conversations with your children. Bedtimes, meals, and car rides are often good times. As often as possible, have family dinners where you can share news, discuss problems, and make plans. Research shows that children who have dinner with their families several times a week are less likely to smoke or use illegal drugs, have sex at young ages, and get into serious fights.
Have frequent, brief playtimes with young children (5–10 minutes can make a difference). Allow your children to direct the play.
Read together and talk about the characters' feelings, challenges, and solutions.
Talk about your family's culture(s). This will help your children feel more strongly connected to their ethnic background and their culture's values and beliefs. Research shows that positive cultural identification can improve a child's self-esteem and protect against emotional problems.
Discipline and Guide
Positive guidance and discipline promote children's self-control, teach them responsibility, and help them learn to make thoughtful choices. Specialists suggest that inconsistent, harsh discipline that includes physical force, threats, and negative comments may interfere with healthy development. Here are some key components of positive discipline:
- Pay attention to what children do right. Children thrive on positive attention and are more likely to repeat a behavior if you notice it and comment on it.
- Use consistent, caring consequences for unacceptable behavior. The consequences should be reasonable, directly related to the misbehavior, and respectful of the child.
- Give the message that mistakes are a chance for learning.
- Offer choices whenever possible to provide practice in making decisions.
Reprinted with the permission of the Committee for Children. © 2007 Committee for Children.