6 Little Behaviors Of The Most Effective Parents

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Mother and father playing with their son

After having counseled children and families for nearly 20 years, I found that there is one thing that all parents have in common: they want to raise a healthy and happy child. What are some important parenting tips and advice that parents need to be aware of to make sure that they are raising good kids in this day and age? If you watch a lot of T.V., then you might think it's the materialistic stuff that matters to your kids. But, the real truth is, that what children want is their parents' time.

As they get older and look back on life as adults, they will remember the times they spent with you the most. As a parent, what stops you from spending time with your children? Work, your cell phone, or drama with friends and family? There is probably more. However, this means that you need to prioritize your family, even more. So, yes, you need to put family time on your calendar. Start by asking your child how their day was. If they give the standard answer of, "Good", then get specific. Ask what was good about it, what was bad about it, and what games did they play at recess. Your parenting skills don't have to be through the roof to have happy children. If you can come up with some questions that you know they can answer, you are off to a good start.

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Here are 6 little behaviors of the most effective parents:

1. They touch their child to connect 

As a society, we stray away from touch. But, touch is how we connect as human beings. Hold your child. Don't buy into the method of letting them cry it out. This will make your child feel alone and insecure. As they get older, dance and play with your children — they will remember those times the most.

2. They cultivate a culture of gratitude

Identify what you are grateful for. Start with simple things like a roof over your head and a warm bed to sleep in. This will help foster a culture of gratitude in the family. Your child learns from what you do and say. When you foster an attitude of gratitude, this helps create compassion and hope. Keep a gratefulness chart on the refrigerator with some fun markers. Make it easy for your child to reach. This way they can write or draw it when they feel grateful and everyone can see it.



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3. They sing to their child

They love to hear your voice. Don't worry about how you sound, just sing. You can sing your child's name or favorite song. Watch how their eyes light up when you sing to them. When children are young they will naturally hum a song. The next time your child does this, sing along with them. This is a great way to connect with your child.



4. They relish the "mess" together

I will admit, this is a hard one for me. But, you miss moments of joy with your child when you worry too much about the mess. Ten years from now, the mess won't matter. They grow up so quickly, you don't want to miss out. Stop worrying about what your friends and family will think. What's important is what your child thinks and that you have an emotional connection with them. When they grow up, they won't remember the mess — they will remember you.

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5. They add positive affirmations to their daily routine

Remember, your child is trying to find their place in the world. This is not always easy. Many adults are still trying to find themselves in the world. Affirm the positive choices your child makes. This is how they learn to navigate the world they live in. You can do this with words or body language. A simple smile will let them know you approve of their choices. Be open to your child's ideas and let them try new things. Children love to think out loud. Make sure to support this. It will help with creativity.

6. They explore the world together 

Take time each week to learn something new about your child. Take a cooking class with your child, or a dance class. Don't worry about how you look. This will help level the playing field. Your child will see that you have the same struggles that they have. Your child will also be able to relate to you and see that you have struggles and triumphs in life. It will also let your child know, that you don't have to be perfect.

It's important to remember, that all good parents make mistakes. Even parents with the best of intentions. What's important is that you repair and learn from them. This will help teach your child that it is alright to make mistakes. Try not to get stuck in the past or worry extensively about the future. You can't go back and you can't predict the future. What does this mean? Stay in the present and enjoy the time you have with your family.

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Lianne Avila is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a practice in San Mateo, CA. Her work has been featured in Psych Central, BRIDES, and Prevention.