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10 Steps to Better Parenting

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Every parent wants to be the best parent they can be to their child. But parenting is a hard road to navigate, often filled with unexpected twists and turns. “The Kid’s Doctor” pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard and the show’s co-host, Dina Conte Schulz, came up with a list of 10 steps every parent can take in the road to better parenting.

Step 1: Model the behavior you expect

This begins when your child is an infant and continues as a toddler through the school years into being a teenager and young adult. “Those eyes are always watching parents and it is amazing what they see,” says Dr. Hubbard. “They watch how we communicate with our spouse, and other family members, how we handle anger and disappointment, the language we use, the actions we have. They watch how we eat, exercise. They watch if you smoke. They watch if you drink, do it responsibly.” Dr. Hubbard also says our child notice how their parents behave at the store, in traffic at their school. She says the list is never ending and that our children also see that we are not perfect, which is okay.

Step 2: Remember that mistakes are opportunities to learn

One of the hardest thing as a parent is to watch your child falter, or make a mistake. “Whether it is choosing not to do a homework assignment, or ignoring your advice, everyone makes mistakes and fails at times.” But says Dr. Hubbard, it teaches consequences, resilience and makes your child realize what it takes to succeed and how to do it on their own. Let them see you make a mistake and how you handle it.

Step 3: Don’t do for your child what they can do for themselves

Dr. Hubbard says this too begins at a young age, from your your-baby’s first steps when you watch them fall, to small chores around the house like making their bed. “This builds on itself so that your child learns to do their own homework, manage their own study time, write their own papers. Children gain independence this way and take pride and ownership of their success, but also their failures.”

Step 4: Always ask yourself, is this meeting my needs or my child’s, and make sure that your happiness is not based on their success

What is the saying “a mother is only as happy as her least happy child”? This is true to an extent. But we all have exceptional kids, and want the best for our children. But children are different and may be quite different from their parents or siblings. “Parents need to recognize their child’s talents and what they like to do, not always what you want them to do, like sports or academics. It is okay for a child to be a ‘C’ student if they are doing their best and achieving their potential,” says Dr. Hubbard. It’s okay to have them stop playing a sport, even if you were the quarterback or cheerleader, they may not be. Dr. Hubbard says “Recognize their individual gifts, talents and interests and nurture those, even though they not always yours.”

Step 5: You’re not the only parent going through this

Talk to other parents both those with children of similar ages to parents you admire. Chances are you are not in this situation alone, and often helps to hear other parents perspective, advice and guidance. “You can always take it or leave it, but helps to know you are not alone,” says The Kid’s Doctor.

Step 6: Parenting begins with control and develops into influence

“Or stated another way, parenting begins with rules and develop agreements as your child matures. It’s a matter of semantics, you can’t control an infant to sleep but you can control where they are and then later on you can’t control when they will walk or talk, but you can control what they hear and where they go. Over time you have to let go of some of the control (and hopefully you won’t feel that you need it) and you have influence,” says Dr. Hubbard. Issues certainly change as a child grows older. They are not always with us, sometimes we don’t know what they do, or who they are with. But you have set limit and boundaries and also set consequences. The young child has learned to control themselves at the table, or not to bite and hit (age appropriate/inappropriate behavior), not to use bad language, etc. They have learned SELF CONTROL and therefore you now become influential. Finally says Dr. Hubbard, “Remember to communicate!”

Step 7: Commit to family meals

“All sorts of studies to document the effect of eating meals together,” says Dr. Hubbard. She recommends getting up with your kids in the morning if you are home, having breakfast, packing a lunch (they can help), and eating a family dinner several nights a week. It is the best time to communicate, listen, learn about manners and taking turns she says. Studies also show that children who eat family meals are less likely to become obese, use drugs or alcohol, and have better grades.

Step 8: Get physical with your child

“As parents we put so much emphasis on communicating and expressing thoughts and feelings in words. But don’t undervalue how much communication goes on through touch,” says The Kid’s Doctor, pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard. So many busy parents and kids rarely have time to speak, yet alone touch, so give them a kiss before they run out the door to school, tousle the hair or give them a hug. “It gets them off on their day with a little bit of you. Hold their hand when you walk into the store, or rub their neck while they study. Just a little touching is a powerful gesture to express love.”

Step 9: Less stress often equals more success

“We are all under so much stress at work, home, school and our children are feeling this,” says Dr. Hubbard. She suggests dropping one activity per week and not over scheduling your child. “Your child shouldn’t be too busy to forgo family meals or bedtime routines. Too much to do just leads to emotional and physical breakdowns and does not lead to well adjusted successful child and adult. Often, less is more.”

Step 10: Never say “these are the best years of your life” but instead say “the best is yet to come.”

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