5 simple parenting rules I swear by

father and child

I will start this article with the acknowledgement that every parent has a unique way of parenting and I completely respect that. There are different rules, rhythm and beliefs in every household, so every parent finds their own methods of parenting. However, I am keen to share what works for me and my kid and how it is helping me be a more involved and available parent. I know with certainty that these rules will have an overall positive effect on children (starting from toddlers all the way up to adolescents) when followed consistently. Here they are-

#1 The cue to drop social media— I have a rule for myself where if I hear my son say ‘Now leave the phone’, I drop it immediately. I won’t necessarily do it if he says this when I am working on my laptop (since I mostly work from home), but specifically if I am browsing on my phone, I follow this a 100% times immediately. I think it acts as an alarm for me to stop and focus on the child, especially since he has signalled that he knows I am not doing anything super important. It helps me prioritise and gives that sense of comfort to the child that he is being acknowledged.

#2 One relaxing activity before school time— My son started going to pre-school earlier this year. After the initial settling-in period, I have followed one practice consistently — that of involving him in a quick activity before rushing him off to school. For the most part, it is watering the plants or even watching as I water or tend to the plants. Other times, it is something like giving him a quick massage. A relaxing activity in the morning before the hectic-ness begins is a great way to ensure that the child looks forward to the mornings, instead of simply being pushed out of the bed, onto the potty seat, off to the shower and out the door. Also, such a routine forces both the child and the parent to manage their schedules in a timely fashion, thus bringing some discipline.

#3 Explaining the whys — Children tend to ask a lot of questions and sometimes it can drive the parents nuts, especially if the looping of one question after another goes on and on. But I have realised that the only way to convince a child for a certain behaviour is to talk repeatedly about the why. For instance, my son is very fond of playing with water in the washroom, kitchen, washing area, basically everywhere. I have had to tell him multiple times to not waste water and turn off the tap when not in use. This was usually followed up with the question ‘why’. So I would have to go on about how it is a precious resource and how many people don’t even have access to water for drinking. This is then followed up by another question about how tap water isn’t even drinkable, to which I have to continue explaining that it very well could be, if it is conserved, filtered and used where necessary. Over a period of time, I have seen my son being very conscious about turning off the tap immediately after he is done, and even during brushing/washing his hands. He is perfectly okay turning it off and on as and when required.

#4 Thank you, please, sorry — These three words are some of the most under-used words in most close relationships, but they have the power to motivate, kindle interest and soothe a wounded heart almost instantly. I use them extensively with my son, as I want to model the behaviour I expect from him. Recently, I observed that I tend to lose my calm with my son often, especially if he is throwing a fit or expressing himself aggressively. So, even if I have been upset and rude with him, I make it a point to apologise to him at a later moment, so that I can close the loop on my unexpected behaviour. It helps to put the past behind and comforts the child to see the parent expressing themselves honestly.

#5 Consistency— This is probably one of the hardest rules for me to follow, but I take it as my parenting challenge. Doing what I promised to do; promising only what I know I will be able to follow through on; having a routine of sorts; working on my own wellness so that the child is able to see a consistent, dependable and level-headed response from me. All of this helps bring consistency in my every day interaction. If you can have certain routines such as bed-time, wake-up time, meal-time etc., it is all the more better, since the child starts to value the essential routines, for the most part. This greatly helps in building a discipline for the whole family.

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Originally published at www.mycity4kids.com.