Editor's note: This article was originally published on Becky Squire's blog, The Coco Notes. It has been republished here with permission.
If you ever doubt yourself as a parent and think you're getting it all wrong, welcome to the club! You're not alone. Every mother and father out there has felt the same way at some point, if not every day. These principles, created by Lynn Scoresby, are my favorite to remember when I'm feeling as such. They get the job done while ensuring your children still feel loved.
1. Prepare more than punish
A few years ago, my husband and I finished our basement and our oldest son finally got his own room, along with his own bathroom. Before he could even enjoy the privacy of his new found freedom, I told him he was responsible for cleaning that bathroom all on his own each week. I didn't set foot in that bathroom until a couple weeks later. Honestly, it could have been worse, but I immediately saw my own mistake. I hadn't actually showed him how to clean it, and the result? Well, let's just say it's beauty only ran skin deep.
Rather than getting after our children for not doing what we ask, let's first make sure they understand what is expected of them.
2. Communicate more than control
As parents, it can be so easy to bark orders at our children. They may receive your short-term message, but in the grand scheme of things, they are also receiving feelings of negativity and even neglect. Instead, hold that tongue, and lovingly talk with your children, not at them.
3. Encourage more than criticize
One of my favorite pieces of parenting advice is this: "Remember your child is not an adult, so don't expect him to act like one." I didn't quite understand what that meant until my child threw her first public tantrum. Embarrassed, I quietly scolded her for acting out that way. She was two. Yes, these situations require proper and loving discipline, but it's important to remember that it's also part of a child's natural development. Positive encouragement should always outweigh negative criticism.
4. Involve and individualize
As a mother, I am very independent. Meaning, I like to do things my way with little or no help from others (excluding my husband, of course.) If the house needs to be clean, dinner made, kids dressed, let me handle it. Why? Because in my world, it needs to be done the right way, at the right time. Can any of you relate? This is where I need to make a conscience effort to involve my children to help. Yes, it usually ends up messier or taking longer than necessary, but the lessons they learn are invaluable.
This principle always tugs at my heart-strings. It's natural, at least in my experience, to discipline children with a time-out, whether for the sake of the child or the parent (we throw tantrums just as good as our littles). I think a break is OK, for the sole purpose of calming down so we don't let our emotions get the best of us. But don't isolate your child for longer than that. They need our love, especially when they may not deserve it.
6. Love enough to set and maintain limits
I feel like this should be an obvious principle, but I see so many parents that try too hard to be their kids' friend or that give in too easily to a tantrum or whining. We know we are loved by our children, but wouldn't it be nice to be liked by them? Some days I definitely don't feel liked, and that's OK. I know that by setting family rules and being consistent, I am helping to shape them into the best individual they want to be.
I have found that by applying these principles, my kids are happier, I am happier, and our home is a happier place to be.