Parenting is not easy. Especially in today’s world where we’re bombarded with parenting advice from every direction. There are books upon books and blogs and e-Newsletters and magazines and they’re all filled with information to help parents raise healthy, well-adjusted children. But then some of the advice is conflicting, and some of it is unrealistic, and still more of it is just plain confusing.
So how, as a parent, can you actually contribute to the healthy development of your children? How do you weed through the piles of parenting advice being shoved in our faces to pull out the gems? Based on their years of experience working with parents and children, our team of therapists has compiled a list of the top 10 pieces of parenting advice:
1. Remember that kids are immature and irresponsible… and that’s okay. Children learn from their mistakes, especially when their parents are supportive rather than impatient and annoyed. The part of the brain responsible for logic, reason and impulse control doesn’t fully develop until a person is in their early 20s. An immature brain will result in immature behavior… it’s just science! Be patient and help your children learn from their mistakes rather than feel ashamed of them or frustrated with them.
2. Set limits, constructively. Everything your children learn about the world is because of you. They need limits to feel safe and in control. Set limits, but keep them respectful. Using criticism or shame to keep your kids in line will backfire in the long run.
3. Know where you child is, developmentally. Oftentimes, questions about why your child is acting a certain way can be answered just by knowing where he or she is on the developmental spectrum. Children literally pass through hundreds of very normal transitions on their journey to adulthood. Understanding those stages will help you react to them appropriately and supportively.
4. Play to your child’s personality. This sounds obvious, but knowing what makes your child tick can make it easier to navigate their growth and development: the best setting for them to do their homework; understanding why they want to come home early from a sleepover party, etc.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of unstructured play time. Our counseling center’s play therapists know how important play time is. The act of playing is how children learn and develop literally everything. Let them play and explore on their terms, within healthy boundaries.
6. Know when to talk, and know when to listen. Sometimes, letting your children solve their own problems is more developmentally rewarding. Know which problems your children need help solving, and which ones they will be better off solving on their own.
7. Be more than just a parent. This is so important. Yes, your children are the most important thing in the world—but parents need to have more in their lives than just their kids. Friendships, passions, hobbies. It’s not only okay to have interests that aren’t your children… it’s necessary, or you run the risk of placing the burden of meeting all of your emotional needs on your kids.
8. Walk the walk, don’t talk the talk. Simply stated, the way you live your life teaches your children more than anything you can ever say to them. Be and model the type of person you want your children to be: kind, caring, empathetic, honest, responsible…
9. Don’t use fear and control to raise your children. Fear and control don’t equip your children with strong morals and values, or effective problem-solving skills. Connection, creativity and fun are much more effective long-term teachers for children.
10. Value your child’s thoughts and emotions—not just their actions and behaviors. Sure, raising a well-behaved child is important. But raising a child who recognizes the importance of feeling their feelings is arguably even more important.
We said it before, and we’ll say it again: parenting is hard. There are so many facets and components that go into raising happy, healthy, well-behaved, emotionally-sound children. It can feel overwhelming at times… we know. Your mental and emotional health will directly impact the development of your children. If you’re struggling with parenthood and are unsure if you’re helping or harming your children, please reach out.
Contact Creative Counseling Center
Our counseling center is happy to offer therapy for parents. Whether you are struggling with parenthood to simply want to do the best possible job of raising healthy, well-adjusted children, our counselors can help. Request a free phone consultation using the form below, and tell us about your parenting needs and goals. We’ll pair you with the counselor who is best equipped to offer the parenting advice you need.