They say that a perfect parent is only a mythical character without human flaws of sudden anger outbursts and unreasonable behaviour followed by rapid pangs of guilt and angst.
While it’s true that we cannot always be perfect, we can only try our best. Here are some simple ways of giving your child the best that you can.
- Avoid Labeling – When parents openly describe the behaviour of their child as difficult, moody or withdrawn they are unknowingly encouraging their child to continue such behaviour. Kids often seek feedback of their behaviour from parents and tend to behave in ways expected of the label given to them
- Identifying emotions – Gently encourage your child to talk about his/her feelings and help him/her identify, understand and communicate the feelings appropriately, especially difficult feelings such as, anger, irritation, sadness and guilt. Help them understand that an emotion can be experienced as a range from low to high (for example feeling annoyed would be milder than a strong emotion such as anger). Learning how to identify and understand one’s feelings enables us to gain better control over our emotions and better psychological health.
- Identify your coping style – Learning through modelling/ imitation is one of the most primary methods a child or teen may learn how to behave from his/ her parents. We tend to take on coping styles used by our parents, most so unknowingly. Become aware of your own coping style in times of stress. If your way of dealing with stress is unhealthy; being passive-aggressive and keeping it all in, aggressive; lashing out on others or self; substance abuse/self harm it is only natural that your child will consider this style as the solution of dealing with stress. Awareness is an important step towards changing unhealthy coping behaviour and modeling effective ways of dealing with stress by addressing one’s feelings.
- Be happy – Happiness is a skill. It does not come naturally. Give yourself the care and importance you would like your child to give himself/herself. Be kind in your self-verbalization to yourself. Find yourself some ‘me time’ and find creative ways of expressing yourself through art, books, music, dance or exercise. Make time for your friends and your spouse. Learning how to be happy is probably the best wisdom a parent could pass on to his/her child. Moreover, as they say; a happy mom/dad is a good mom/dad.
- Avoid the “silent” treatment – When parents become very quiet and withdrawn to show disapproval of unacceptable behaviour it can be misinterpreted by the child as a loss of love. It creates unnecessary anxiety for the child and the message the parent is trying to give through silence is lost. Instead encourage an open discussion with your child with certain ground rules that both of you may follow such as keeping an even tone of voice and avoiding accusations. This kind of communication would foster a nurturing relationship between the parent and child which will help the child learn how to communicate in the real world as well.
- Spending time together – Having fun together and laughing together encourages warmth and affection and a feeling of closeness between a parent and a child. Keeping it simple and something doable, like, making cupcakes at home or playing board games, caroms, and reading, listening to music or watching TV together.