I know the topic is a bit clichéd. But we all want to grow in different areas of our lives and parenting is a top priority, so its great to keep trying to grow and become better at it!

The new year is a wonderful time to put the past behind and start afresh. Here are a list of 10 ideas to improve your parenting (These are actually all the areas I need to work on, so thought I’d convert it into a blog!). I would recommend you choose one or two, write it down, stick it up somewhere and then consistently do it through the year. Try and be accountable to your spouse or a friend.

1. Play with your children for atleast one hour a day

By play I mean actually play! Put your phone away for that hour and give them your complete undivided attention. If you’re not in the habit of doing this, one hour a day is a good start. Play with them with their toys or take them down and play with them. You have no idea how much it will mean to them. Kids love when their parents play with them at their level.

2. Hug your child atleast twice a day.

As soon as they wake up, greet them warmly with a hug. And hug them the last thing in the night just before they sleep. Try and give them a few more hugs during the day as well! It is said, that a pre-schooler needs atleast 9 hugs a day! Many times children are just craving physical affection from their parents. Studies have shown that hugging not only improves the parent child bond, but helps in the child’s brain development and reduces mental stress and anxiety.

3. Take your child to new places.

Do this atleast once a month. Plan it well in advance. Your child can even be involved in the planning process. Google, ask around and you’ll be surprised at the number of new experiences you and your child can enjoy together. Some ideas are: a pet shop, an amusement park, a scenic place in nature, a theatrical play, a special workshop for children, an orphanage, etc.

4. Do not use any physical punishment when you are angry

When you find yourself in a situation where your child has completely wound you up and you have reached the end of yourself, do not hold your child hard, hit, slap or pinch them. It will profoundly affect your child in a negative way. When you know you are reaching that point, figure out a way to calm down – maybe ask your spouse to handle your child for a while, or take a breath, go to another room for a couple of minutes. Calm down and try and handle the situation again.

5. Do not raise your voice at your child

Many times when our child doesn’t listen to us, we resort to screaming or shouting at them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t produce the results we desire, in the long run, your child will completely stop listening to you and you will end up with very rebellious teenagers. If you want to get your child’s attention, get down to their level. Make eye contact with them. Sometimes just speaking in whispers catches their attention!

6. Teach your child to think about others

Every month, help your child think of one act of kindness they can do for someone. It can be giving away one of their nice toys to a poor child, or inviting someone to their birthday party who would not normally get invited to parties such as the maid’s child, or making a thank you card for the watchman etc.

7. Read to your child everyday

Set aside atleast 15 minutes in the day to read to your child. This can be just before they sleep or any other time during the day. It a great way to get some cuddling time with your child, and of course the benefits of reading to your child are tremendous – it helps to increase bonding, helps them understand the world around them and become more empathetic.

8. Set aside one day of the week as a ‘Family Day’

This can be either a Saturday or Sunday. Sit together as a family and decide this date. Ensure that you and your spouse mark it in your calendar as something that cannot be compromised. Let your child know that this is a priority for both of you. Do different things such as playing games together, going out somewhere, watching a movie together, etc. The important thing is that you as a family are together! If for any reason a spouse is not able to make it on one day, try and let your child know well in advance and try and make it up in some other way, such a family evening, instead of a family day.

9. Talk to your child about their day

Everyday find time to sit and chat with your child. You can do this just before they sleep or while they are eating their dinner. Ideally find a consistent time everyday, so it becomes part of the routine. You can ask them the following questions:

  • What was your favourite part about your day?
  • What was your least favourite part about your day?
  • Do you have any questions about your day?
  • How did you show kindness or love today?

Not only will this help you find out about your child’s day and what’s going on in their minds, but it will also help them feel loved and increase their self worth.

10. Work on your marriage

One of the best gifts you can give your child is a secure, stable home where parents respect and love one another. Determine this year to never argue with your spouse in front of your child or speak negatively about your spouse to your child. Demonstrate affection through words and actions to your spouse in front of your child. Discuss parenting goals together with your spouse and as far as possible be on the same page with your spouse.

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