Raising children is one of the toughest jobs in the world, although it is undoubtedly also the most rewarding.
Many people feel unprepared for bringing up a child, but there are lots of ways to ensure you nurture your offspring in the best possible manner.
Read on for our top parenting tips for maximum child development.
Boost their confidence
Children develop confidence from a very early age, so make sure you do all you can to make them comfortable in their own skin.
Your words and actions as a parent impact on their confidence more than anything else in their formative years.
Praising accomplishments will make them feel proud, while allowing children to do things independently makes them feel worthwhile.
Belittling comments or comparing a child unfavorably with another will have the opposite effect. Children will inevitably make mistakes, but use these as opportunities to improve behaviour rather than crtitcise the child.
Sleep is an important part of our day, helping us to recharge or batteries. Children definitely need a good night’s sleep when they’re growing up, particularly with school, sports, friends and other activities filling up their days.
Most children between the ages of 5 and 12 get about nine hours a night, but experts believe that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. Sleep is an individual thing and some children need more than others.
When your body doesn't have enough rest you may feel tired or irritable, and that can be magnified in youngsters. Children can struggle to focus at school or lack the energy to do more fun activities, so make sure they get enough sleep.
Be consistent with discipline
Discipline is important in every household. It helps children learn acceptable behaviours and improves self-control. Setting ground rules is crucial as your child develops and grows.
You may want to have a system in place – perhaps a warning, followed by consequences such as a ‘time-out’ or loss of privileges.
A common mistake parents make is failing to follow through with the consequences of bad behaviour. You can't discipline children for something one day and ignore it the next. Being consistent teaches what you expect from your child.
Spend time with your children
With so many things going on in your lives it can be difficult to spend quality time with your children.
Eating breakfast or sitting down for an evening meal together is a great way to set some time aside to find out what’s going on in your kids’ lives.
Children who aren't getting the attention they need from their parents often misbehave because they're sure to be noticed that way.
Create a special night each week to be together and let your children help decide how to spend the time. A DVD night, playing board games or taking a trip to the park are great ways to spend quality time with your children.
Children are a product of their environment
Children learn a lot about how to act by watching their parents. The younger they are, the more they mimic your behavioural patterns.
Do you regularly lose your cool with your children? If you do, they will think this is the norm and carry that forward with them into later life. Also bear in mind that continually blasting your children will quickly lose its impact.
Studies have shown that children who hit out usually have a role model for aggression at home. Instill in your children the traits you really want them to have – kindness, respect, tolerance and unselfishness.
Express thanks, offer compliments and treat your children the way you expect other people to treat you.