How your grandparents raised your parents and how your parents raised you is probably very different from raising your children. It’s clear that technology and, more recently, COVID, are major reasons parenting styles have changed.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore previous parenting strategies. Whether you’re expecting, having a baby, toddler, or young child, you can take advantage of some of the classic parenting tips your older friends and relatives have used that scientists endorse. You wish you knew them sooner.
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11 proven parenting tips
Don’t think of old parenting tips as rusty relics. Instead, think of them as proven strategies to make your life and that of your child and family more manageable, healthier, and happier. Not sure where to start? Check out 11 of the best proven tips we found.
1. Introduce them to the library
Take your children to children’s programs in libraries to develop their love of reading and increase their interest in the world. Anita Jankovi/Unsplash
Once upon a time, a child’s first trip to the library was like a right-of-way. That has changed in recent decades as library use declined. Good news, however. The increased number of children’s programs in libraries has brought children and their parents back to the pile.
Do you want your kids to enjoy going to the library instead of rolling their eyes and being afraid of it? Make the visits fun. Parents recommend teaching your child how to get and use a library card, show him how to find books (perhaps the written version of movies he liked), and, of course, choose shows he attends.
Another tip: Make library visits a regular part of your child’s week. Do that by visiting different branches so that children can find different books, enjoy a variety of programs and an assortment of librarians. Why bother? Well, library visits increase children’s interest in reading and broaden their interests. Libraries are also quiet places to relax.
Plus, everything is free. What’s not to like?
2. Set up a routine
A daily schedule for children encourages the normality of the family. Vitolda Small/Unsplash
Above we told you to make library visits a regular part of children’s week. But now, especially as COVID has resulted in homeschooling and hybrid programs for many children, a regular daily schedule is a must, many parents say. That’s because it instills normalcy, reduces stress, and boosts productivity.
Also, don’t think you have to wait until kids are pre-teens or older to establish established routines. Even toddlers can follow photo schemes you create with them. Encourage older children to combine words and pictures for the daily schedule.
3. Developing ground rules
Establishing solid ground rules and using strict discipline can help children develop into more respectful, productive adults. Monstera/Pexels
A daily routine is great for kids, but not without some ground rules. It sounds crazy, but the first basic rule is to follow the schedule. You don’t have to follow it like you’re in the military – some leeway is vital – but try to be as consistent as you are reasonable.
Another idea for rules of the game may relate to the library. As we suggested above, make sure your children understand that they must keep quiet, treat books with respect, and be polite to library staff and other customers when you take your children there. When setting such rules and limits, be sure to explain the reasons to children. Ground rules will eventually lead them into habits that make them more respectful, courteous, and kind adults.
4. Eat as a family
Family dinners allow children to discuss challenges. That communication can increase children’s vocabulary, lower the risk of obesity and even lower the risk of pregnancy. The National Cancer Institute/Unsplash
No, this isn’t just something fictionalized from 1960s TV shows. Parents say getting everyone together for dinner promotes bonding between family members, encourages everyone to eat healthier, and even helps kids get better grades. Why? Positive interaction with the family allows children to express themselves and find solutions to challenges.
In fact, the Family Dinner Project, part of Massachusetts General Hospital, reports that the benefits for children may include a greater sense of resilience, a lower risk of substance abuse, less chance of teenage pregnancy, and even a vocabulary boost.
5. Don’t Constantly Save Children From Failure
Letting children fail encourages learning and self-reliance. Annie Spratt/Unsplash
You’ve heard of the “everyone gets a trophy” culture. Its cousin may well have “my child won’t fail” syndrome. You know how that works. Your kid forgets to write a book report or science fair project and you race in to save the day. That might include running to the store for supplies, giving kids a verbal summary of the book they should have read, or, maybe even ghostwriting the report.
Stop. Letting children fail not only teaches them a sense of responsibility, but according to an article in Scientific American, it helps children learn from their mistakes and can increase their self-reliance.
6. Limit praise
It is wise to praise children for specific actions instead of constantly complimenting them. Nataliya Vaitkevich / Unsplash
Of course you love your child and you think it is perfect. But too many parents tell their kids that everything they do is great. That can give your child an inflated ego. Rather than throw a party when your child does something appropriate, wait for a specific act before praising.
“Good for you, finish your homework early” or “Thanks for hanging up your clothes” are two kinds of praise.
Praise naturally increases children’s self-confidence, but specific praise also teaches children positive behaviors and values.
Tip: Make sure your words are sincere, but not over the top.
7. Realize that you are your child’s role model
You are the most important role model in your children’s lives, so your kindness, honesty and integrity are vital. Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash/Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash
“Do what I say, not what I do” is a slogan parents have used for centuries. Now, however, most researchers say it’s the opposite of true. In fact, some scientists note that children who routinely express anger or aggression model their behavior after their parents.
No one is perfect, of course, but it’s smart to try to show your best behavior as often as possible. Show patience, act honestly, stay friendly and otherwise stay as positive as possible. Again, nobody is perfect. But if you do slip, explain to children why your actions were inappropriate.
8. Talk to your kids
Daily chats with kids help develop their conversational skills and allow you to tune in to their challenges and interests. Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
No, we don’t mean they have to put away their toys and wash their hands. Of course you do. Parents say it is wise to talk to children about their lives every day. A good rule of thumb is to ask three questions, such as “Who is your best friend in school?” or “What was the best thing you learned in school today?” or “Are there any sports you want to try?”
Such conversations teach children conversational skills. These opportunities also allow you to learn more about your children to support their interests and challenges.
Encourage your parents and other family members to interact with the children.
9. Limit Screen Time
Limiting children’s screen time has many benefits, including increasing concentration and decreasing body weight. Erik Mclean/Unsplash
Sure, screens are an essential part of modern life, but research shows that overuse results in many negatives, including lower grades, poor social skills, and even weight gain.
One step is to keep TVs outside the children’s bedrooms and in your family or living room. That way you can check how often kids watch. But what about computers and phones? Set limits on that too. The World Health Organization recommends screen time limits for children: No screens for children two years and under; one hour a day for children aged two to five and two hours for children aged five to 18.
10. Don’t Skimp on Sunblock
Apply sunscreen to your children every day to prevent skin damage and sunburn. Feri & Tasos/Unsplash
You make sure you bathe your child. You wash their hair. You make sure that they brush their teeth and that their clothes are clean. You are used to their daily hygiene, right?
Well, although we think these are important points, you should also use sunscreen every day on children who are over six months old. Some parents recommend keeping it near their toothbrush so you don’t forget to put it on.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association also recommends keeping children in sun-protective clothing, keeping infants in the shade, and applying water-resistant SPF 30 or more to your child’s entire skin that is not covered by sun-protective clothing. This way you prevent sunburn and eventually even skin cancer.r
11. Exit the helicopter
You want to keep a close eye on your children without choking them. Janko Ferlič/Unsplash
You want to protect your children, but don’t suffocate them. Of course you keep an eye on them when they are in the water and otherwise in potentially dangerous situations. For example, insist that they tell you where they are going and with whom. But let them have some freedom, too, Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., author of “10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting,” told Metro Parent.
Freedom is essential for older children. If you see them struggling with something small, like an argument with a friend, back off. Have them interact regularly with teachers, potential employers, and elderly relatives. As we said above, a few mistakes help them grow and learn.
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