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Tips for Good Parenting

Parent Educator Offers 12 Tips for Parents During Parenting Awareness Month

Parent educators at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital share 12 pieces of advice in observance of parenting month.

"Parenting is one of the most important jobs in the world," said Pat Crum, parent educator, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "As a society, we often fail to recognize the challenges of being a parent. Parenting Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to pause and take a moment to assess our parenting preparedness and skills."

Crum and her colleagues share the following advice for parents:

  1. Take care of yourself. It is easier to meet your child's needs if you take care of your own. Over-commitment and fatigue are two of the greatest distractions from positive parenting. Take time to relax and enjoy the company of your children.Tips for Good Parenting
  2. Speak calmly and firmly to your children when they misbehave. Tell them what they have done and what would have been a better choice. Respond to disruptive behavior immediately, consistently and decisively.
  3. Realize it is okay for your child to say "no". Parents feel challenged when children say "no" or question authority.  Disagreeing respectfully is a skill that must be learned and one that parents can teach. Keep in mind that you want your child to have the skill to say "no" to peer pressure and inappropriate situations.
  4. Allow your child to practice being powerful in useful and appropriate ways. Show them a positive way to make a contribution. Let them know their actions count. Most parents want to raise a child who will be a self-reliant adult, who can make good decisions and who has the confidence to be whatever he or she chooses. 
  5. Give your children a voice in family rule-making and the consequences for breaking rules. Fewer rules are better and should be clearly understood before a problem arises. 
  6. Focus your attention on what children are doing right to encourage good behavior. Children feel safe when limits are established and consistently enforced. They may constantly push and test the limits. Children of all ages have a strong need for attention and will repeat behaviors that get a strong reaction, whether positive or negative.
  7. Be patient. Being rushed is not compatible with a child's natural rhythm. Dawdling, which is sometimes seen by parents as a challenge to their authority, is normal for children. Children don't function at the hectic pace of adults.
  8. To manage the behavior of young children, use distraction and lots of supervision. Discipline calmly.  Don't assign consequences when you're angry.
  9. Young children are developmentally programmed to explore. Tell them what they can do instead of punishing for what they can't do.  For optimum learning, create an environment that is safe for exploration. Give children plenty of interesting things to do.
  10. Put problems on your family meeting agenda and let the child brainstorm a solution. Children are more likely to cooperate when they are involved in the solution.
  11. A sense of humor is a valuable tool in working with children. A silly or playful attitude will often ease a tense situation, end a power struggle and invite children's cooperation. Laughing together is a great way to strengthen family bonds. 
  12. Respect others and children will respect you. We model respect through our daily interactions with others. Our children learn respect from what they observe and receive from us.

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, a member of Spectrum Health, is a Grand Rapids-based hospital serving children throughout Michigan. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric physicians with training in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. Visit to learn more.

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