I was recently commended on the excellent behavior of my children by one of their teachers. The teacher has three children of her own, her oldest being in kindergarten. She asked me, as a slightly more veteran parent of a second grader and fifth grader how they came to be so well-adjusted and well-behaved.
My response was – But for the Grace of G-d go I.
I remember complimenting a mother several years ago on the wonderful behavior of her twin 6 year old children. She told me, with a straight serious face, that it was due to her excellent parenting skills. We were sitting in synagogue and I recall turning around to see if lightning were going to strike.
I love my kids. I think they’re two of the neatest people I have ever met. And, they have good days and not-so-good days, like everyone else. Sometimes their behavior is, in a word, lacking, as sometimes mine is as well.
In my opinion, there are certain keys to parenting:
Consistency and following-through are the main ones. Praying also helps quite a bit for sanity reasons. But for the Grace of G-d go I.
Only promise to reward or punish with something that you are actually willing to do. Don’t tell your child you are taking away video games if you have no intention of doing so. Don’t offer to reward a trip to the zoo if you can’t afford the time or money for the trip.
It is so hard to be consistent, especially when your children are small and you don’t want to see them cry because you have taken away that beloved toy. But you have to be consistent and follow-through.
I am so not perfect at this, I confess. It’s very hard. It is also very worthwhile.
Whenever possible while disciplining, remain calm and even. This is also very hard.
Do remember to tell your kids that you love them, that you are proud of them, just because they are who and what they are. This is one of the best rewards you can give them – this is also the one reward they will remember years later.
Also – set expectations for yourself as well as your children. Before you enter a store, briefly discuss with your children what you expect from them. This does not guarantee good behavior whatsoever, but it will help. Consistency – if you tell your children you are not purchasing a toy – don’t purchase the toy. They get used to the idea and understand that when you go to certain places, this is what to expect.
Parenting is not a perfect science. Every child is different. Every family is different. This makes the world go round.