It's easy to spend time worrying about what you have, or haven't done and whether your children are truly happy.
|Ieuan - The Messy Years!|
They tell their children they love them
It doesn't matter what age you are, everyone needs to hear that they are loved, and loved unconditionally. It is unfair to tell anyone that you would love them more if only they did this, or were like that (or cousin Elsie).
They read to their children
We know how important it is to read to our kids in order to improve their literacy and understanding of the world around them. But the night-time bedtime story is a chance to snuggle up and forge strong emotional bonds that will last a life time.
They listen to their children
Really listening involves removing yourself from any distractions and focusing on the child in front of you who may be telling you about something that has shaken his or her world. How upsetting to find that your mum or dad is more interested in checking their email on their phone whilst going "um, ah, oh," and not really paying attention.
They say NO.
We are not being great parents if we allow our kids to constantly indulge in habits that are harmful for their bodies and minds. The occasionally sugary treat is only to be expected but constantly agreeing to sweets and chocolates because we don't want to be seen as "the bad guy" is not helping our children.
They set clear boundaries
Great parents tell their kids exactly what is expected of them and what is acceptable. This may mean explaining that there are certain words or phrases we don't use, or that lashing out in anger is never acceptable. Unless we have these conversations with our kids, we cannot expect them to make the best decision for others, and themselves.
They are excellent communicators
Great parents know that they have to find a way to communicate effectively with their children, and that the best way may vary from child to child. NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) teaches us that everyone has a preferred communication style. Some of us are 'visual' - we like pictures and diagrams. Some of us prefer to listen - the sound of the words used is the most important thing. And for some of us, a kind and loving touch is the most effective way to get the message across. Who can deny the power of a cuddle?
They are not afraid to indulge their own 'inner child'
I always think great parents are the ones who know how to play and, no matter what age they are, can let their hair down and goof around with their kids. On a recent visit to Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire with the kids, we spent at least an hour playing hide and seek - and it was hilarious.
They practise self care
Parenting is hard work and a never-ending task. Great parents make sure they take time out to recharge their batteries and reconnect with their partners. For single parents, time out with friends is incredibly valuable. As the saying goes, you have to apply the oxygen mask to yourself before you can help others.
Parenting is one of the toughest jobs there is, but if we take the time to step back and honestly appraise our efforts, most of us will see that we are doing a great job and quickly identify ways in which we can be an even better parent and improve our parenting skills.
For loads more parenting advice, visit my parenting page.