Manual? It goes without saying that being a parent does not come with a manual but it sure would make things easier if it did. Through the trial and error of raising two children myself I thought I would share some things with you that I picked up along the way that I wish someone would have shared with me.
6 Parenting Tips Not In The Manual
- Don’t let others try and tell you what their children did at a certain age and use that as a gauge for what your child should be doing. Let that “helpful” comment go in one ear and out the other. Goodness knows this can cause alarm but trust that your pediatrician will pick up on any red flags concerning your child’s development.
- Don’t let someone whose child never had colic convince you that giving your child a pacifier is wrong. I was told this with my first child and tried my damn level best to go without ever giving in and giving him one but after months of crying and realizing the pacifier made my life easier, it was a no brainer with my second child to do whatever I had to do to make life easier in my household.
- Although it is important to schedule date nights with your partner, it is equally important to teach your child the correct behavior when dining out and this starts at an early age. Like having good table manners and using inside voices. Imagine being out on a date, just you and your sweetie, childless. You are each enjoying a glass of wine when all of a sudden you are interrupted by the most alarming high pitched shrill from an unhappy toddler. (Infants we can understand because they are not yet old enough to be taught but not a toddler) When you are dining out and decide to bring along your nap-deprived youngster who is normally mild tempered, you run the huge risk of blowing a great night out for some other very deserving parents who are trying to enjoy a few hours of quiet, adult interaction. It’s simply called being considerate. And if by chance your child does decide to throw a tantrum mid-meal PLEASE try to console them but if this doesn’t work then if possible, remove them from the restaurant. When my kids were younger and did this I never had a problem leaving a place because honestly at that point it was no longer enjoyable and I can assure you many others are also not enjoying their meal while your child is having a meltdown. If you take your children out to dinner try and go to places that are more kid-friendly or where other children are more likely to be present. It will be more enjoyable for you and them. Over time and with consistency your toddler will learn that certain places require better behavior. There is nothing like being out and seeing a family enjoying a nice meal together where all of the kids are so well behaved. You will find that many times you will even receive praise from complete strangers for doing such an amazing job of teaching your children how to behave at a fine restaurant.
- All parents love and adore their children and love to brag about their latest milestones but no one, and I do mean no one, likes to hear a parent go on and on bragging about how perfect and adorable every little thing is that their child does. Grandparents, an astounding YES but not your coworkers. Your coworkers love to see and hear little glimpses of what is going on in the life of your child but give them the abridged version, OK!!
- NEVER, EVER say that your child will not do this or do that because every parent at one time or another ends up eating their words for saying that. Come on, none of us are perfect and I can most definitely guarantee that at some point in time your child is going to do something that will disappoint you and cause you to shudder. Just explain to them how wrong it was and how they have to do better next time and then let it go. And I’m sorry but no one can stand to be around a parent who portrays their child as the perfect cherub. When they make a mistake, and they will, you and them will most definitely be the talk of the neighborhood. If you just go ahead and keep things realistic then when this happens, people will be glad to come to your side and share their own horror stories about their little darlings and thus restore your hope in their normalcy. I promise we all have those moments with our children we would rather forget but rest assured, you are not alone. We have all gone through it!!
- Which brings me to another great teachable moment for your child…when you make a mistake show your child how you can admit it and then apologize and try to do the right thing. Don’t pretend you are perfect or without flaws because to a child this can create some really big shoes to fill and cause them to feel that somehow they will never quite measure up. They will have so much more respect for you if you show them you can admit when you are wrong and it will also create an environment where they can come to you and talk about anything without the fear of being judged.
Being a parent has many challenges but it is also extremely rewarding. Just enjoy every minute of it and try to keep things in perspective and remember to find whatever works best for your family situation. Another really important thing to remember is to lead by example. I promise even when you think they are busy or not paying attention to you, they are!! Model the behavior and traits that you wish for your child to mirror. They are like tiny little sponges and they are capable of learning so very much. Raise them to be the kind of kids that people look forward to see coming, not wishing to see leave!!