How your grandparents raised your parents and how your parents raised you is likely quite different from raising your kids. Obviously, technology and, more recently COVID, are significant reasons parenting styles changed.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore past parenting strategies. Whether you are expecting, have an infant, toddler or young child, you can benefit from some of the classic parenting tips your older friends and relatives used and scientists endorse. You’ll wish you knew them sooner.
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11 Time-Tested Parenting Tips
Don’t think of past parenting tips as rusty relics. Instead, look at them as time-tested strategies to make your life and the lives of your child and your family more manageable, healthier and happier. Not sure where to start? Check out 11 of the finest, proven tips we found.
1. Introduce Them To the Library
At one time, a child’s first trip to the library was something akin to a right of passage. That has changed in recent decades as library use dipped. Good news, though. The increased number of children’s programs at libraries has brought kids and their parents back to the stacks.
Want your kids to enjoy going to the library rather than rolling their eyes and dreading it? Make the visits fun. Parents suggest you teach your child how to obtain and use a library card, show them how to find books (perhaps the written version of movies they’ve enjoyed), and, of course, choose programs for them to attend.
Another hint: Make library visits a regular part of your child’s week. Do that by visiting various branches, so kids find different books, enjoy an array of programs and an assortment of librarians. Why bother? Well, library visits increase kids’ interest in reading and broaden their interests. Libraries are also calm places at which to unwind.
Plus, everything’s free. What’s not to like?
2. Set a Routine
Above, we told you to make library visits a regular part of kids’ weeks. But now, especially because COVID has resulted in homeschooling and hybrid programs for many kids, a regular daily schedule is a must, say many parents. That’s because it instills normalcy, reduces stress and encourages productivity.
Don’t think you need to wait until kids are pre-teens or older to establish set routines, either. Even toddlers can follow picture schedules you create with them. Encourage older kids to combine words and pictures for the daily schedule.
3. Develop Ground Rules
A daily routine is great for kids, but not without some ground rules. It sounds silly, but the first ground rule is to follow the schedule. You don’t have to follow it as if you’re in the military––some wiggle room is vital––but try to be as consistent as reasonable.
Another idea for ground rules might involve the library. As we suggested above, if you take your kids there, make sure your kids understand they should remain quiet, treat books with respect, and politely interact with the library staff and other patrons. When you set such rules and limits, make sure you explain the reasons to kids. Ground rules will ultimately lead them toward habits that make them more respectful, courteous and kind adults.
4. Eat Dinner as a Family
No, this isn’t just something fictional from 1960s TV shows. Parents say that gathering everyone together for dinner helps family members bond, encourages everyone to eat healthier and may even help kids get better grades. Why? Positive family interaction allows kids to express themselves and find solutions to challenges.
The Family Dinner Project, part of Massachusetts General Hospital, even reports benefits to children may include a greater sense of resilience, a lower risk of substance abuse, fewer chances of teen pregnancy and even bolster the vocabulary.
5. Don’t Continually Rescue Kids from Failure
You’ve heard of the “everybody gets a trophy” culture. Its cousin may well be the “my kid won’t fail” syndrome. You know how that works. Your child forgets to write a book report or science fair project, and you race in to save the day. That might involve running to the store for supplies, giving kids a verbal synopsis of the book they should have read or, heck, perhaps even ghostwriting the report.
Stop. Allowing kids to fail not only teaches them a sense of responsibility but, according to an article in Scientific American, helps kids learn from their mistakes and can increase their self-reliance.
6. Limit Praise
Of course, you love your child and think they’re perfect. But too many parents tell their kids everything they do is superb. That can give your child an inflated sense of ego. Rather than throw a party any time your child does something appropriate, wait for a specific deed before you give praise.
“Good for you, finishing your homework early” or “Thank you for hanging up your clothes” are two types of praise.
Praise boosts kids’ self-confidence, of course, but specific praise also teaches kids positive behaviors and values.
Hint: Make sure your words are sincere but not over-the-top.
7. Realize You Are Your Child’s Role Model
“Do as I say, not as I do,” is a catchphrase that parents used for centuries. Now, though, most researchers say it’s the opposite of true. In fact, some scientists note that kids who routinely act out in anger or aggression model their behavior after their parents.
No one is perfect, of course, but it’s smart to try to put your best behavior on display as often as possible. Show patience, act honestly, remain neighborly and otherwise stay as positive as possible. Again, no one is perfect. But when you do slip, explain to kids why your actions were inappropriate.
8. Talk to Your kids
No, we don’t mean telling them to put their toys away and wash their hands. Of course, you do that. Parents say it’s wise to talk to kids about their lives every single day. A great rule of thumb is to ask three questions such as “Who is your best friend at school?” or “What was the best thing you learned at school today?” or “Are there any sports you want to try?’
Such conversations teach kids conversational skills. Also, these opportunities allow you to learn more about your kiddos to support their interests and challenges.
Encourage your parents and other relatives to engage with the kids, too.
9. Limit Screen Time
Of course, screens are an essential part of modern life, but research shows that overuse results in many negatives, including lower grades, poor social skills and even weight gain.
One step is to keep TVs out of kids’ bedrooms and in your family or living room. That way, you can monitor how often kids watch. But what about computers and phones? Set limits on those, too. The World Health Organization advises screen time limits for kids included: No screens for kids two and under; one hour per day for kids ages two to five, and two hours for kids between ages five and 18.
10. Don’t Skimp on Sunblock
You make sure you bathe your child. You shampoo their hair. You make sure they brush their teeth, and their clothes are clean. You’re set on their daily hygiene, right?
Well, while we think those are important points, you should also put sunblock on kids who are over six months old each day. Some parents recommend you keep it near their toothbrush, so you don’t forget to put it on them.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association also recommends you keep kids in sun-protective clothing, keep infants in the shade and apply water-resistant SPF 30 or more to all your child’s skin not covered by sun-protective clothing. Doing so prevents sunburn and, ultimately, even skin cancer.r
11. Abandon the Helicopter
You want to protect your kids, but don’t smother them. Of course, you’ll keep an eye on them when they are in water and otherwise in potentially dangerous situations. For example, insist they tell you where they’re going and with whom. But let them have some freedom too, Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., author of “10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting,” told Metro Parent.
Freedom is vital for older kids. If you see them struggling with something minor, such as a quarrel with a friend, back off. Let them routinely interact with teachers, potential employers and older relatives. As we said above, a few mistakes help them grow and learn.
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