As parents, we all want our children to grow up to be amazing humans! Right? Right! Look no further for the best advice for new parents!
From the day you find out you are pregnant (or your partner is pregnant, or your adoption is happening), you begin thinking, dreaming, and imagining who your child will grow up to be.
With the knowledge from this post, you will gain wisdom on raising the kind of child that will thrive.
My Journey to Parenting Wisdom
As a pediatric speech and language pathologist, I thought I knew all there was to know about raising kids as a single, childless 20-something (ha!). I spent my workdays helping small children and their families troubleshoot common everyday issues, and somehow I had the confidence only accessible to someone who knows nothing.
But everything changed when I had my first daughter!
I couldn’t believe I made everything seem so easy and simple when talking to the families about how to help their children through potty training, tantrums, sleeping, talking, and listening! (Oops!)
Now armed with the experience of having my own precious children, and the book smarts, I want to share with you all what I have learned (and am still learning) about the crazy wonderfulness that is parenting.
If you want more specific advice on how to be a better mom, check out my post here.
What is Parenting?
If you have children, parenting is something that happens whether you are thinking about it or not. You can raise a child without ever sitting down to contemplate how your actions, reactions, and interactions will impact them, and a lot of people do that.
But there is a better way: you can consciously make an effort to shape your kids into the humans you want them to be! Although there will be hiccups and curveballs that you will never be able to fully account for, you won’t regret being a mindful mom or dad.
I want to help you to be purposeful in your parenting, to help your children not only to survive but to thrive!
How to Get Started with Parenting
Well, to get started with parenting, you are going to need a child!
This could be a child you conceive with your partner, one you adopt, or maybe one you get to look after.
Once you have a child that is yours, be intentional with what you want for your child. Sit down (by yourself, with your partner, mom, friend, or whomever), and think about what kind of a child you want to raise.
Once you’ve identified what’s most important to you, start thinking about what it will look like to help your child develop the skills or character traits you prioritize.
Tips for Success in Parenting
- Love your child! I know that’s an obvious one, but it’s certainly the most important part of parenting!
- Be the kind of person you want your child to become because they are watching everything you do.
- Teach through play.
- Help them to develop curiosity.
- Give them a blend of independence and help from mom (or dad, aunt, grandma, babysitter, etc.).
- Decide what character traits are important to you and be purposeful about instilling those things in your child.
- Give your child structure and routine so they can grow and flourish.
- Have fun!
Common Questions/FAQ About Parenting
- What is the most important thing I can do as a parent?
- The most important thing you can do for your child is to love them! I know this is overwhelmingly obvious, but it’s true. Love covers a lot of mistakes! If you love your child, you will be motivated to do lots of other things well for them. Love means a lot of things. It means being patient and kind. It is forgiving and hopeful. Many amazing things will flow out of your love for your child because you want what is best for them.
- What can I do right now to help my child become a “good” person?
- Be the person you want your child to become! Your children are always watching and listening. From an incredibly young age, children are picking up on what you are doing and how you are doing it. They can pick up on tone earlier than you might think. The words they hear most might be their first, so make sure the words you use will sound okay coming from a one or two-year-old. If they see you being kind they will pick up on that, and if they hear you yelling, they pick up on that too. Model what you want them to do when they are stressed out (such as taking deep breaths instead of throwing something). Children are sponges, and they will soak up all that you do and say.
- How can I help my child (baby/toddler) grow up to be smart?
- The answer is NOT sitting them in front of an “educational program”, practicing more flashcards, or leaving them alone to listen to Beethoven. The answer is to play with them! You read that right, PLAY. WITH. THEM.! I mean it, playing with them is easily the most effective way your child will learn new skills. There are tons of studies that prove this and it’s one of the coolest things about children. You can teach your kids innumerable things by playing. You can teach them “educational” skills like colors, numbers, letters, vocabulary, and the basics to just about every school subject and more. You can also teach them to be curious, kind, sensitive, thoughtful, resourceful, imaginative, and silly all through play. If you really want to teach your kids, then P L A Y!!
- What are some good parenting skills?
- Love! See question #1 for more details!
- Patience-you will need this in big, heaping spoonfuls! Patience will be necessary when your baby is so tired that they can only cry. You will need it when your toddler NEEDS the purple plate, even though it’s dirty. You will need it from the day that sweet little one is born until…forever!
- Follow-through is vital so that your child knows that if you say something, it will happen. This is true for both rewards and discipline. If you say that your child will get a treat if they pee in the toilet, you better give them a treat. If you say they will have to take a time out for coloring on the wall AGAIN, you better do it. Doing what you say you will do will help them understand what your expectations are, and that will help them be successful (or learn from their mistakes).
- Communication is pivotal in raising wonderful children. When you prioritize listening, talking, reading, and understanding well, you help them to communicate effectively. Great communication is so foundational because so many skills stem from positive communication.
- Independence is a wonderful trait to instill in your children, and it has a lot to do with letting your child take some risks (within reason, of course) and letting them problem solve on their own. It’s easy to want to do everything for our children, but when we let them try to figure it out on their own, they will grow in confidence and skill!
- What are some things to avoid as a parent? (What are some “bad” parenting skills?)
- Being a “do what I say and not as I do” parent rarely works. You may think it is working, but chances are at some point your child will imitate the things you are doing. If you are doing a lot of things you DON’T want your child to do, STOP DOING THEM! I know that’s much easier to say than to actually do, but it’s a very important thing to consider.
- Speaking harmful words over your children can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are casually talking to a friend within earshot of your child and you say something like, “Oh, he’s just such a naughty boy”, your child may hear that and take it to heart. He may hear it, and decide that your words define him. He may become more naughty because that’s what you said of him. The words you speak about your child in front of your child MATTER!
- Empty threats have the potential to do a lot of harm to your child. If you say “stop doing that or I will _____” seven times without doing anything, that behavior is not going to stop! Give clear expectations and warnings, then do what you say you will do.
- Obviously, any overt harm is a big NO! Not only do you need to avoid harming your child, but you need to be vigilant in making sure others who are around your child are not harming them in any way.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about Parenting
Parenting is an incredible journey that will have some inevitable highs and lows along the way. You can choose to actively parent by thinking through what’s best for your child, or you can put it on auto-pilot and see what happens. Choose to participate, to love your child well, and to help them flourish and become amazing humans!
I’d love for you to leave a comment about the traits you would like to instill in your children or any other questions you have.