Everyone has their own approach to child care and parenting, and every family will have hard and fast rules that apply to the way they live. In my experience some rules work well overall and can be adapted to almost every family. These are my top 10 !
1. Praise and Rewards
The best reward you can give a child is your time , attention ,praise and love. A treat or toy is not necessary as a reward but will get the job done for some. The key is only needing the praise instead of the reward. That will take time and patience, but will serve you well in the long run . A star chart or a special adventure with a you will reinforce a pattern of the good behavior you desire.
Once you have made a rule, never change it just to get a quiet house or to calm a tantrum. Make the rules as a family, and require everyone else to follow them as well. Caregivers and grandparents all need to be onboard. A rule is a rule and children will learn them quickly if everyone is on the same page.
To keep your home in some kind of order a routine is necessary. Having set times for meals, bath , clean up and bedtime are the foundation of family life. This doesn't mean you must be stressed or ridged, you can be flexible once the routine is set. I have found that children enjoy knowing what is happening and when. They feel safe and comfortable. If the plan changes let them know today will be different and why.
Children need to know the limits of their behavior. Boundaries and rules tell them what is acceptable in your home and what you expect of them . It says very clearly what may be dangerous to them or others. Again it works best when boundaries are set as a family.
Discipline keeps the boundaries in place. It should be firm yet fair. Most times a stern voice or look can get the message across. There are other techniques you can use that don't involve any punishment, every family must decide for themselves what works best for their child. Any discipline should be age appropriate.
I believe there are 2 kinds of warnings. One tells them they have 10 more minutes left before clean up , dinner , bedtime etc.. It tells them what is coming next. The other is a warning of bad behavior. This gives the child a chance to correct themselves before any discipline takes place.
Little ones don't understand how to behave unless we show and tell them. During a tantrum or meltdown is not the time to reason or explain anything. When you and your child are calm you can listen and explain, just remember do not make it complicated , just make the message clear and straightforward. If the explanation involves discipline ask them if they understand the how and the why so the message hits home.
You are the parent and you are in charge. Keep cool ! Don't answer a tantrum with a overdone display of anger, or respond to yelling with more yelling. Be the adult, don't let them wind you up.
Childhood is about learning and growing. Let them !! Allow them to achieve small goals, so they can gain self-esteem and confidence, and learn necessary social and life skills. Involve them in family life and give them age appropriate assignments . Don't set them up for failure, make sure your expectations are reasonable.
Everyone in the family needs quality time , including yourself ! Let your little ones calm down and unwind at bedtime with stories and hugs, then make sure you, your partner and other children have some individual attention. Relax, tomorrow is a new day !