Illustration. Better Parent. A father and mother spend quality time with their daughter, showing how better parenting should look.

Establish a Routine

One of the most effective ways to be a better parent is to establish a routine for your child. A consistent daily schedule helps children feel secure and provides structure for their day. This can be especially important for younger children who thrive on predictability. By setting regular times for meals, naps, playtime, and bedtime, you can create a sense of stability and help your child develop good habits.

Creating a Daily Schedule

To establish a routine, start by determining the appropriate times for meals, naps, and bedtime based on your child’s age and needs. Then, create a visual schedule that you can display in a prominent place in your home. Use pictures or symbols to represent each activity, making it easier for your child to understand and follow the schedule. Be sure to include time for play and relaxation, as well as structured activities like reading or doing puzzles.

Benefits of a Routine

Having a routine can benefit both you and your child. For you, it provides a sense of control and helps you manage your time more effectively. For your child, it promotes a sense of security, improves their behavior, and enhances their overall well-being. When children know what to expect, they are less likely to feel anxious or act out. They are also more likely to develop good sleep habits, which in turn can improve their mood, attention, and learning abilities.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to effective parenting. Children thrive on routine and predictability, so it’s important to be consistent in your expectations and follow through with consequences. Whether it’s enforcing rules, implementing a disciplinary strategy, or simply sticking to a daily routine, consistency sends a clear message to your child about what is expected of them.

Setting Clear Expectations

When it comes to discipline, it’s important to set clear expectations for your child. Clearly communicate the rules and consequences, and be consistent in enforcing them. This helps your child understand what is expected of them and what will happen if they don’t follow the rules. For example, if you establish a rule that toys must be put away before bedtime, consistently enforce this expectation by reminding your child to clean up and providing consequences if they don’t.

Following Through with Consequences

When your child misbehaves, it’s important to follow through with appropriate consequences. This shows your child that you mean what you say and helps them learn from their mistakes. It’s important to choose consequences that are appropriate for the behavior and age of your child. For example, if your child refuses to do their homework, an appropriate consequence might be losing privileges, such as screen time or a special outing.

Set Limits

Setting limits is an essential part of being a better parent. Children need boundaries to feel safe and secure, and setting limits helps teach them self-control and respect for others. By establishing clear rules and boundaries, you can guide your child’s behavior and help them develop important life skills.

Establishing Clear Rules

Take the time to establish clear rules and expectations for your child. Make sure the rules are age-appropriate and explain them in a way your child can understand. For example, if you have a rule that your child needs to finish their homework before watching TV, explain that doing homework is important because it helps them learn and grow. Be consistent in enforcing the rules and provide praise and rewards when your child follows them.

Encouraging Self-Control

When your child pushes the limits or tests boundaries, it’s important to respond calmly and consistently. Encourage your child to think about their actions and the consequences they may face. Help them develop self-control by teaching them to pause and think before acting. For example, if your child is tempted to take a toy from a friend, remind them to stop and consider how that would make their friend feel. Encourage empathy and help them understand the importance of respecting others.

Model Good Behavior

As a parent, you are your child’s most important role model. Children learn by watching and imitating their parents, so it’s important to model good behavior and values. Your actions and attitudes have a powerful impact on your child’s development, so strive to be the positive influence they need.

Being a Positive Role Model

Show your child what it means to be kind, respectful, and responsible through your own actions. Treat others with kindness and empathy, use polite language, and demonstrate good manners. Show your child the importance of honesty, integrity, and hard work. When faced with challenges, model problem-solving skills and a positive attitude. By consistently modeling good behavior, you are teaching your child valuable life lessons and helping them develop into responsible, caring individuals.

Teaching Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions and understand the emotions of others. By modeling emotional intelligence, you can help your child develop this important skill. Show your child how to express their feelings healthily, and teach them how to empathize with others. When your child sees you handling stress, frustration, or disappointment positively and constructively, they are more likely to learn these skills themselves.

Engage in Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for shaping your child’s behavior and building their self-esteem. It involves providing praise and rewards when your child behaves in a desired way. By focusing on the positive and acknowledging your child’s efforts, you can encourage good behavior and motivate them to continue making positive choices.

Using Specific and Genuine Praise

When praising your child, be specific about what you are praising and why. This helps your child understand exactly what they did well and encourages them to continue that behavior. Instead of saying, “Good job,” say something like, “I’m proud of you for sharing your toys with your sister. That was very kind of you.” Be genuine and sincere in your praise, and avoid overpraising or giving empty compliments. Children can sense when praise is not genuine, so it’s important to be authentic in your words and actions.

Using Rewards and Incentives

In addition to praise, you can also use rewards and incentives to reinforce positive behavior. Rewards can be as simple as stickers, a special treat, or extra playtime. Incentives can be used to motivate your child to complete chores, follow rules, or achieve specific goals. For example, if your child consistently brushes their teeth without reminders, you could offer a small reward, such as choosing a special bedtime story or staying up 15 minutes later on the weekend.

Use Discipline Strategies That Work

Discipline is an essential part of parenting, but it’s important to use strategies that are effective and appropriate for your child’s age and temperament. The goal of discipline is to teach your child right from wrong and help them develop self-control and respect for others.

Setting Clear and Reasonable Expectations

When it comes to discipline, it’s important to set clear and reasonable expectations for your child. Clearly communicate the rules and consequences, and be consistent in enforcing them. Make sure your expectations are age-appropriate and take into consideration your child’s individual needs and abilities. For example, a toddler may struggle to sit still for long periods, so expecting them to quietly color for an hour may not be reasonable. Instead, set shorter time limits and provide alternative activities to keep them engaged.

Using Natural Consequences

Natural consequences are the natural results of a child’s behavior. By allowing your child to experience the natural consequences of their actions, you can help them learn from their mistakes and take responsibility for their behavior. For example, if your child refuses to wear a jacket on a cold day, they may feel uncomfortable and learn the importance of dressing appropriately. It’s important to consider the safety and well-being of your child when using natural consequences and intervene if necessary.

Spend Time with Your Child

One of the most important ways to be a better parent is to spend quality time with your child. Building a strong and loving relationship with your child lays the foundation for their emotional well-being and overall development.

Prioritizing Quality Time

Make it a priority to spend dedicated, one-on-one time with your child each day. This can be as simple as reading a book together, going for a walk, or playing a game. Choose activities that your child enjoys and that allow you to connect and engage with them. During this time, put away distractions like phones or laptops and focus solely on your child. Show genuine interest in their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and use this time to strengthen your bond.

Creating Special Traditions

Create special traditions or rituals that you and your child can enjoy together.