First-time parenthood can be scary. Every new parent, especially new mothers, wonder whether they are doing the best job possible at raising their child – and no wonder! In between feeding, bathing, playing and doctor’s visits, you must also teach your child about the world around him.
You must provide discipline along with plenty of love and support. There are many questions faced by parents every day. How can I build my child’s sense of self-esteem and self-sufficiency? How do I ‘punish’ my child for bad behavior without causing real harm?
When it comes to good parenting skills in any of these areas, the first thing you have to remember is that your children are individuals, just as you are. Some children are very resilient and quick to learn, while others may be stubborn or extremely sensitive.
Therefore, the first step in learning good parenting skills is to learn what’s going to work for your child.
It is easy, for example, to adopt a rule about spanking. Most child-rearing advice today advises against any kind of corporal punishment. So, what do you do instead? Likewise, what do you do when your child suffers from low self-esteem, and it seems that your efforts at praise are falling on deaf ears?
The steps you’ll take to be a good parent in any of these situations needs to be based on an overall plan or philosophy in regards to the best way to raise your child. Good parenting skills aren’t just lists of "do’s and don’ts". Your skill at handling any situation will come from your self-confidence in your role as loving protector.
In other words, good parenting is really about patience and consistency (in your words and actions). One of the healthiest approaches you can take with your child is to teach him the laws of cause and effect.
If you believe in teaching your child about cause and effect, and the consequences of his or her actions, there will be no question about how best to provide discipline or positive feedback.
Let’s look at an example. Imagine for a moment that your child is in an aggressive phase, and often hits or bites his playmates. If you believe in teaching cause and effect in a healthy way, then you do not hit or bite your child as punishment.
Instead, you would take him aside and explain to him that his friend Is not going to want to play with him any more if that behavior continues. If he repeats the behavior, you would end the play session early as punishment, to show him that he won’t be allowed to play at all so long as he behaves aggressively.
In order to remain consistent, you would also apply this technique to positive situations. For instance, when your child does something nice for someone else, you would then praise him and point out the cause and effect between the desired behavior and the positive outcome.
It’s never too early to start applying this skill. Toddlers are at a prime age to being learning about cause and effect, but babies begin to notice relationships between actions and outcomes as early as four to six months.
Be gentle, patient and consistent in your approach, and remember to tailor these lessons to your child’s unique personality.