Parenting requires a lot of patience, skill and persistence. Parents who don’t have these qualities may feel like they can’t control their child, and some get discouraged when new methods don’t work right away. Parents also have different parenting styles, and it’s important to identify what works for you and your family. If you’re not happy with the way your children behave, it’s possible to improve your skills by changing your behavior, using positive reinforcement instead of punishment and getting support from other parents or a therapist.
A common problem is that parents become locked into escalating cycles of action and reaction, with each one feeding the other. For example, a parent who is impatient with an infant can cause the child to become distressed, leading to more impatience and so on. Parents who don’t know how to break this cycle can find themselves yelling and screaming or engaging in power struggles, which isn’t helpful for anyone.
Similarly, some parents don’t set clear boundaries or rules and allow their children to behave inappropriately. These parents may neglect the basic needs of their children, which can result in emotional and physical abuse. In some cases, these parents abandon their children, or they may take their kids to dangerous places, where they’re exposed to danger and exploitation.
Others try to avoid discipline by spoiling their children with gifts, lowered expectations and giving them whatever they want. This type of parenting is also called permissive parenting, and it can lead to problems with substance use, delinquency and school performance.
Still others use harsh discipline, which can cause trauma to young children and lead to anxiety and depression. This type of parenting can also be emotionally and physically abusive, but some people feel pressure to be tough on their kids because that’s how they were raised.
Effective parenting is about creating an environment in which your children can express their feelings and learn from their mistakes. It’s also about setting boundaries and rules to keep your children safe, establishing clear communication, and demonstrating appropriate behaviors, such as respecting others. Practicing self-care is another important aspect of parenting, so you can be an emotionally healthy and responsive parent.
You can improve your parenting skills by identifying what works and what doesn’t, focusing on a single skill each week, and telling your kids what you’re working on. It’s a good idea to involve your entire family in this process, so they can cheer you on and make you accountable. It’s also important to be able to recognize when you’re burnt out, and to admit it when you need help. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to ask for help when you need it, and it teaches your children that you value your own well-being.