Good Parenting & Healthy Children
Being a good parent isn't easy, but there are effective skills and valuable information that can help you meet the daily challenges of good parenting and healthy interactions with your children.
"Balance" is the Key
Balance is important in developing a strong foundation through positive self-care, individual time, healthy interactions and communication with others. The very foundation of parenting, in fact, consists of introducing those skills that will help your children develop:
- A positive sense of self
- Healthy communication and problem solving skills
- The ability to develop strong and healthy relationships
For instance, parents often hesitate about what information (if any) is appropriate to share with children when asked tough or uncomfortable questions. The response I often provide is this: if children are old enough to ask a question, they are old enough to receive an honest answer.
It is important to encourage children to ask questions and to respond as honestly and completely as possible, keeping in mind the age of the children and appropriate language (and the amount of information given). If you are unable to answer a question, rather than avoiding it or making up an answer, let your children know you don’t know the answer and if possible, will help them find the answer. Often, if children do not get some form of response, they will create an answer that can have a negative impact later.
Letting your children know their questions are important will make them feel important as individuals. Open ended questions (what, how, who, when, etc.) create a door of opportunity for children to explore inner thoughts, and to express ideas, feelings and concerns.
Developing Problem-Solving Skills in Your Children
It is important to help children look through one window at a time when problem solving in order to avoid confusion. Exploring with children creative ways to solve problems introduces flexibility and a variety of options in decision-making. You can encourage some decision making during the early stages of life, giving options and asking your children to choose (i.e., from these outfits, from these menus, etc). This will teach them that every decision has some form of outcome and provide them with a sense of control.
The Value of "Special Time" with Your Children
"Special time" between you and your children is another important aspect of a healthy routine and helps them to express their needs, feelings, concerns and conflicts. It is a significant part of children's lives to have separate, individual attention from you on an activity or project of their choosing. Allow your children to guide you and introduce you to their own worlds and imaginations. This means using age appropriate language, kneeling, sitting or stooping at your children's level, and not questioning your children's play techniques.
The amount of time is not what matters. Special times, as short as 15 to 20 minutes per day, will send children the important message: that you value spending time with them and that they are special and important. Keep interruptions at a minimum. Offer encouragement through non-verbal gestures, such as a smile or gentle touch. Restating what your children say helps them to recognize they are being heard. Conversations with young children are more effective when brief. A good rule-of- thumb is to speak for about 30 seconds and then ask them to comment. This should be done in small intervals. "I" messages such as "I feel" or "I am" are less threatening when communicating with children, and shows them how to take responsibility for their own actions and feelings.