Every child is unique in some way, so no parenting book will describe yours exactly. Here are some simple principles that will make your mum or dad job a bit easier.

What you need in your daily life isn’t all that different from what your child needs. Your versions are just a little more evolved – you’re a grown-up in an adult world, after all, where everything seems complicated.

Here are some sensible ideas from experts about dealing with your kid’s everyday issues and needs. They’re not much different from what you want in your adult world…

Even if you’re tired or at your wits’ end, “Stop doing that!” isn't the way to go with a misbehaving child. Sometimes things can look very different to them, so try to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Maybe you’re confusing them, or a situation is too overwhelming for them. They might even be right if they say you’re not being fair. See if you can offer a better option. “You can all enjoy the game together if you take turns” makes sense and fulfils their need to be understood.

Tell them what they can do more often than what they can’t do. “Why don’t you play catch outside where you have more space?” works better than “No running in the house!”

They can’t always get what they want but you shouldn’t say "no" all the time, either. Listen carefully to what they want and see if you can explain why it has to be a no. And when there’s a chance to say yes, do it with enthusiasm. “Yes, if you bath now there will be time for a book before bedtime!”

Give your kid some quality time every day. Mute the phone and let them see you put it aside. Just play, listen, talk, joke and hang out for a few minutes. Show the love. They need it.

Take it outside sometimes as well. It’s as good for you as it is for them: fresh air, a change of scenery, stretching your legs, switching off your busy mind. If there’s something that has to be done soon, set a time before you start and give them a few minutes’ notice: “Okay, two more rounds, then we have to go do our homework.”

Don’t yell. How do you feel when a boss shouts at you? Chances are: resentful and definitely not inspired to do right next time. You’re the role model at home. If you shout, they will, too.

Rules must be enforced after they are made. And you need to follow them as well, unless you have a really good reason why not. If your kid does something wrong, don’t start insulting them. They should see that the bad thing doesn’t change your overall feelings for them. It’s “what you did now, was mean,” and not “wow, you're a mean kid”. Do you feel the difference?

We all should be able to control our emotions. Control, not suppress. Instead of telling them not to talk to you like that, maybe try “you sound really upset. Tell me what’s wrong – we’ll figure it out together”.

Listen actively. Get down to their level, look them in the eyes and don’t interrupt. Ask open-ended questions to get them talking and repeat what they say to show you understand what they’re getting at.

One of those parental mistakes that sticks with a kid is shaming them into changing behaviour. Nobody likes being called out in front of others. Agree with them on a secret sign (not words) that shows they have to change their behaviour. This way you can redirect them in public without shaming them. “Look, everybody else is eating with a spoon except you!” That’s shaming and it can leave a mark.

Show unconditional love. Embrace them, kiss them, praise them for good behaviour. It shows you love them no matter what. It proves that even if they were in the naughty corner just now, they’re still your babies.

After all of that, don’t forget about yourself. Parents are people, too. Get enough sleep. Take breaks. Manage your work stress so you’re not too tired or frazzled to do anything else when you get home. Do something every day that makes you happy or pleases you, even if it’s just reorganising a messy cupboard. Your good mood will rub off on everyone in the home, including the kids.


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