School is back in session and that brings new friendships, new activities, new homework, and new challenges to your child. Here’s some Parenting 101 tips to help you keep communicating with your child and still keep tabs on them without them feeling like they are under a microscope.
1. Pay thoughtful attention. Most young kids love to share how their day went. If you cultivate this propensity at a young age, your child is much more likely to tell you what’s happening with them when they are more reserved teenagers. Give your child you complete attention; turn off the TV, put the cell phone down, stop what you’re doing and focus on them.
2. Ask open ended questions. If you ask a YES or NO question, all you’ll get is a yes or no answer. Ask questions that can’t be answered without some sort of 5 or 6 worded sentence.
3. Prioritize time with your child. They have been gone for 6 or more hours and you may have been gone even longer with your job. Make time each day just for them; not minutes but an hour or more. Be sure that they recognize that this is their time with you and nothing is more important to you then being with them.
4. Build on trust. Kids are smart. They learn really fast whether or not they can trust you. If you tell them you will do something, do it! No excuses! If they know you can be trusted, they will be more open in telling you what is happening in their lives.
5. Build relationships with the people that matter in your child’s life. When your child is in school, their teachers will know more about their day to day life than you may know. Get to know those teachers. They will be a great resource in helping you ensure that your child is safe, learning well, and progressing in school.
6. Remember respect is mutual. If you want respect, you must give respect. Don’t badger your child. Give them time to think and respond. Let them confront issues first before you offer to step in and help. Let them voice their opinion and don’t try to lead or teach by force. respect will go a long way towards creating a mutually loving and happy relationship.
7. Don’t take it personally. When you’re working through something, you don’t always want to hold a conversation about it. Your child may respond the same way. Don’t push for conversation if your child prefers to remain deep in thought. Don’t take offense at the slammed door if your child is upset and just needs to cool off before coming to you. Give your child enough space to work out their own issues and still assure them that you are there to help and support them.
8. Say your sorry. Parents screw up too. more often than we like. Be quick to apologize to your child when you don’t get it right. Not only will you teach your child to be responsible for their own actions , but you will build on their trust and strengthen communication skills.
9. Know when to step in. While most issues can be handled by your child, some cannot. Watch for warning signs; sudden changes in your child’s behavior, emotional swings that seem abnormal, bruising, anger issues. These could be signs of bullying, issues at school, or medical conditions that will need a physician’s attention. Be attentive and watchful and step in and protect your child. No one else will.
10. Remember you’re the parent first and the friend second. Children need parental security while they are still young and under your roof. Be sure they know that while you hope to have an open relationship with them, you are still their parent and as such, you will discipline them, give them boundaries and guidelines, and protect them from harm. They will thank you for the security you provide even if they chaff at what they might see as restrictive.