There is so much pressure these days on parents and particularly mothers to be great parents. But what does it really mean to be a good parent? Of course, there is not one way to be a great parent. Happy children come from all different types of homes. However here are some parenting guidelines to help you to raise happy, confident and responsible children.

Great Parents: Provide unconditional love and encouragement.

You are the primary influence on your child’s sense of self-worth and her ability to face the world with confidence. Help your child to feel cherished by giving her your time and attention daily. A little one-on-one time together gives your child the message that she is special and important. Really listen when she talks and acknowledge her even when you don’t agree (“I get it that you’re upset I won’t let you…”). Recognise her efforts “You tried really hard” rather than her results (“What a great job’). Doing so will make your child less reliant on the approval of others. And most importantly, show her you love her with small acts of love such as smiling when she walks into the room, winking when you say goodbye and giving her many cuddles and “I love you’s”.

Great Parents: Use positive discipline strategies.

Your child will learn best to distinguish right from wrong if you set clear and consistent limits and consequences. When she breaks one of your rules, deal with it in a way that won’t damage her self-esteem. Ignore her attention-seeking behaviours such as whingeing. When you begin to slip into a power struggle, take a step back, tell her you will deal with it later and take care of it when you feel calmer and you can deal with it more appropriately. When she breaks a minor rule such as jumping on the bed, give her a warning or a reprimand. Use small consequences for minor issues (“I will put the toy away now since you can’t share it with your friend”) and Time-Out for more serious ones such as aggression or disobedience. Model positive behaviour and notice your child’s positive behaviour “Thanks for bringing your plate to the kitchen”.

Great Parents: Teach responsibility.

One of the greatest gifts your child can learn is that she is responsible for the choices she makes and the consequences of her actions. Offer her choices whenever you can. Give her age-appropriate chores so that she learns that she is responsible in contributing to your household. Encourage her to tackle new skills, even if she hasn’t yet developed them. When she struggles at learning something new, give her a chance to work it out before rushing in and doing it for her. The idea is to find different ways for your child to get used to thinking for herself so that she relies on herself and her choices rather than the opinions and approvals of others.

Great Parents: Use routines and rituals to create a sense of togetherness.

Family routines such as dinnertime, bedtime, weekly outings and other routines help children to feel a sense of control and predictability. And rituals such a pizza night on Fridays and a family day out my mum and dad on Sundays, bring families together and create a sense of security and belonging. Children look forward to predictable shared events. Rituals can also take the form of a special way to say goodbye such as with a kiss, cuddle and high five. These traditions give children special memories that they cherish for years to come.

Great Parents: Give up trying to be a super mum.

A great parent is one who realises that in their job of preparing their child for life in the real world, they need to present to their child the realities of life in which no one is perfect and no one is going to be able to always please them and meet their needs. A great parent aims to give their child what’s most important while also realising that looking after their own needs as a parent is essential and that it’s OK to make mistakes. Occasional parenting mistakes have little impact on our overall success at childrearing. Have realistic standards of yourself and if you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it but rather focus on a better way handle the same situation the next time it occurs.

Great Parents: Look after themselves.

One of the key aspects of being a good parent is to feel good about yourself and your role as a parent and the only way to do this is by giving to yourself as well as to your family. No one can keep giving and giving without becoming depleted. The better you feel about yourself, the more effective parent you can be. Regularly take time-out for yourself doing whatever it is that works at renewing yourself.

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