You do not have to be a parent to know that there is no ‘instruction manual’ on how to go about raising children. When we were kids ourselves and under the direct supervision of our parents or guardians, we often asked, “What the heck have I done wrong – I did not deserve that!” There are no guarantees when it comes to achieving parenting goals, and there is no “map book” to guide you along the way. Sure, we have plenty of advice from the likes of famous Paediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock, but some things we have to work out for ourselves. Making goals helps you to set targets, and then keep to them hopefully for the good. Let us start by analyzing 5 Parenting Goals For Every Parent and try to make sense of them.
1. Goal: Communication – Make It a “Two-Way Street”
Always make time available to listen to and talk with your kids. Regard it as an open and honest opportunity to build a healthy relationship with each child from the earliest possible age. Nothing should be taboo or “not up for discussion”; this approach will enable you to provide guidance and advice in a positive way no matter the situation. Effectively, you are opening rather than closing the door to your child’s inner feelings, and potential worries and concerns.
It also provides the opportunity to share with them through their developmental phases, and then goes on to set a healthy trend for life. The sooner you start communicating effectively with your kids the better. They will soon realise that communication is a conduit between themselves and you. It should provide a positive forum for all manner of situations that may include the good, the bad and even the ugly!
2. Goal: Social Skills Development
Your children rely on you to provide sound advice and guidance from the earliest age. When they start school, they are going to need encouragement to perform well academically. Learning how to interact with others and developing friendships is equally important. A happy student focuses on their studies and performs well, but they also need to develop team skills and learn how to interact responsibly with others. In boxing matches, a referee keeps the two opponents from crippling each other. In life, only decency and good sense can ward off untenable situations.
Your goal should be to help your children develop acceptable social skills. To do this, set the basic rules and help them understand the consequences of their interactions with others. Setting routines for meal times, bathing and going to bed helps in establishing stability. Encourage your child to see other points of view and allow for differences of opinion, but also help them to express their emotions in a socially responsible way. Just as boxing matches have strict codes, the same applies to the rules of engagement in your child’s interactions with others around them.
3. Goal: Keep Watch – Read The Situation
While you cannot be everywhere and watch every minor event, learn to read and respond to body language and behavioural patterns displayed by your kids. We may notice that something does not feel right with a child but often, we choose to walk away or pretend we are too busy. When a child seems a little “unusual”, they may just be trying to tell you something. Ignoring a change in mood or attitude could cause irreparable damage to your relationship with them. Do not allow all the good work of the other parenting goals to come undone.
Tackle problems like this immediately – open the communication channel and enter into dialogue – the alternative is not something you want to consider. Watch for signs of confrontation with other siblings or perhaps a regular friend has stopped visiting your kid. The early warning signs may seem uncomfortable to deal with when you first observe them, but letting them fester can have far-reaching consequences down the track. Keep your eyes open and watch for changes, but make positive interventions.
4. Goal: Form Positive Relationships With Teachers
Teachers may end up spending more time with your kids than you get to doing. Reach out to your children’s educators because they will provide feedback less emotionally when it comes to developmental issues. You need to establish a good working relationship as this will help avoid the “time out” routine. Work harmoniously with teachers and feel free to ask questions and talk through issues. In many cases, the only time the teaching fraternity hears from parents is after the launch of an accusation of misconduct. Avoid going behind a teacher’s back and dealing with the principal directly – you will destroy any future chance of exchanging thoughts and ideas.
Tell the teaching staff if there are any unusual events at home potentially affecting your child’s performance at school. Teachers have a classroom full of students and unless they are very astute, they may not notice sudden departures from normal routine. The first awareness may only surface with poor grades after the end of term exams. Home issues can be invasive, whether matters of finance, marital issues, other sibling problems or health issues of a close family member. Teachers do not enter you home so they will be unaware of upsetting trends. Take your child’s teachers into your confidence.
5. Goal: Encourage Your Kids To Be Independent
There is nothing quite as satisfying for us parents than seeing self-esteem grow in our kids as they develop and expand their abilities. As your child learns to multi-task, their self-confidence levels will also take off, but we need to help our children attain independence and flourish in life. Just imagine the benefits that can accrue to an adolescent who knows how to plan and wants to achieve their goals. Here are some route markers to help your kids along life’s path, and it all begins at an early stage:
- Encourage your kids to choose their own clothing, and to dress and learn to look after themselves as soon as they can.
- Teach them to be self-reliant – get them into good timekeeping ways starting with the early morning alarm clock. A tidy room points to an organised mind!
- Encourage them to solve puzzles and research their own material for homework. Be there to help and explain the logic and the methodology when it comes to problem solving, but make sure they understand the processes.
- Allow your child to volunteer their services, because this is mind building in itself. It could be as simple as washing the car or mowing the lawn, or even drying the dishes.
- Be there when needed and make them feel special, because this will help form the wings they need in order to fly solo.
Our parenting goals are like our kid’s school year. Both begin with blank notebooks and good intentions, and end with a series of tests to see how we have shaped up in terms of following the guidelines we set ourselves. Working with our children through our own goal setting process is a sure-fire way of getting things off to a good start for them. Try to make your goal-chasing mission a fun action but do it with love, fairness and conviction.