7 Ways to Be a Better Parent

By James D. Sutton, EdD

Article Courtesy of DocSpeak.com

Tip #1: Affirm Unconditionally.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a conditional society. We have to perform to stay employed. Sometimes our children sense that they must perform to be loved. They have difficulty separating who they are from what they do, and unfortunately we too often add to the confusion by praising our kids when they make the team, if they make first chair trombone, and because they won the contest. Although there is nothing wrong with recognizing a child’s accomplishments, such affirmation must balance with recognizing the youngster’s unconditional value.

One way to do this is to simply say to the youngster, “You know Suzie, I was just thinking about something. I know that we have our differences from time to time, but, through it all, you’re one of the best things that ever came into my life. You don’t have to say anything; I just wanted you to know.” The secret to making this affirmation “stick” is to immediately ask a non-related question (such as, “Say, can you tell me where the scissors are?”), leave the room, or in some way make it comfortable for the youngster not to respond to what you have said.

Casual notes left on the bathroom mirror are another way to affirm a youngster without him or her feeling like you are making a “big deal” out of it. Keep affirming in small, almost “casual,” ways. It will begin to pay off.