5 Steps to Becoming a Great Parent
“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.”
– Frank A. Clark
Challenges and struggles are normal when it comes to parenting, and oftentimes we are left to our own devices to figure out what works best for our child. This article will give you 5 clear steps that can help you become a great parent, according to the fundamental needs of your child. I will also give you three solid book recommendations that can assist you in this parenting journey that is a continual, learning process for us all.
Kid and Adult Challenges
Parenting challenges are always there. Kids know just how to push our buttons. The challenges which kids face are very large. They include:
- peer pressure
- making sense of life
- academic, social, behavioral and learning challenges
- drugs and alcohol
These issues only become larger as the child’s age increases. 1 out of 7 children in the US are struggling with one type of diagnosable mental, behavioral, or developmental issue, with ADHD becoming a growing problem. Anxiety and depression are also becoming more present in younger ages of children.
What is Attachment Theory
We care about our kids and only want to see them happy and successful. For this reason, we are often triggered and easily upset by their behaviors. What is important is how we express our wishes and how we maintain our love, support and respect for them. Attachment theory comes from Freudian attachment theory and was developed by Dr. John Bowlby who wrote, “from cradle to death, we need to be loved and appreciated.”
5 Tips For Being a Great Parent
We are our children’s heroes and their greatest inspiration. So step up to the plate and be there for them. Let’s get started:
One of my favorite introductions to parenting skills is from Dr. Haim Ginott. Imagine if you were sitting on an airplane and the captain introduces himself. “Ladies and gentleman, welcome aboard, let me tell you about my lifelong love and passion for aviation. Since I was three I have loved planes. At the same time I must confess that I do not hold a pilot license. Before you decide whether or not to exit the plane, please rest assured that I love flying.” What would you do? Any sane person would run. Although love and passion are a good start, if one lacks the training and skills, they are bound to crash. It is the same with parenting. You may love your children with great feeling and passion, but without skills and training, you are a disaster waiting to happen! Get training and this will then combine with the love and make you a great parent!
1) Start now and start early
It’s never too early to work on your parenting skills and it’s never too late to make make changes! Many excellent books on parenting come from Dr. Haim Ginott, such as Between Parent and Child. Dr. Ginott’s parenting classes have been expanded masterfully in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Mazlish and Faber. Being a good parent is a combination of skills and passion. One without the other will simply not suffice.
Focus on your child’s needs more than your own embarrassment and meet them where they are at. We need to validate the child’s needs and feelings and respect and honor their inner worlds. If a child feels like you are not honoring them, they will continue to fight to get their voice heard. They already live in a world where they are seen as half-citizens and “small people”, it is intolerable to them that their caregiver should not listen too.
3) Be an example
Kids see our motivations clearly and they will call us out and not respect that which we say if we are not authentic. You can’t tell a child not to copy you. Show by example and let your children be involved in your community and charity work and in your lessons of integrity and hard work. Remember what Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” Finally, don’t blame yourself, just try your best. If your kid misbehaves that is their issue, not yours.
4) Provide safety & security
Our children look towards us to determine if they are safe and protected physically and emotionally. Parents need to provide their children a safe and secure environment for them to thrive.
5) Keep learning
Just as you don’t allow your kid to be a know-it-all, so too, don’t take that stance for yourself as well. Always be open to learning and changing your attitude and beliefs about best practice parenting.
Don’t give up and get started today. You can improve your parenting. One step closer to your child makes the world of a difference. See below in resources for three powerful books that will change the way you parent.
- Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by Dr. Gottman
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Mazlish and Faber
- Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim Ginott