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5 Ways to Improve Parenting Skills

by Valerie Liles

Your parenting skills will develop over time with patience, perseverance and a healthy sense of humor. Watching other parents -- those with well-behaved and happy kids -- teaches you how to approach your own children. Parenting is a scary prospect, but it is also one of the most rewarding jobs. And just like any other job, you'll get better at it over time.

Listen, Really Listen

From the moment you hold your newborn in your arms, your listening skills take on a whole new dimension. Initially it's about a heightened sense of awareness, such as hearing her whimper in the night, when you used to be able to sleep through anything. As your child gets older, your ability to listen will become the glue that holds your relationship together. Look at your child when she speaks to you, acknowledge what she is saying and give credence to her concerns. Listening to your kids gives you insight into who they are as a person, who you are as a parent and it develops trust and respect in both of you.

Be an Exceptional Role Model

Be better than you ever thought you could be. If you're having a problem understanding why your child has such a bad temper, look at your own. How do you handle stressful situations? Are you swearing at the guy that just cut you off on the highway? Are you screaming at the neighbor that just let their dog do its business in your yard? Kids learn by example -- they watch, they listen, they interpret, then they practice. You are their role model. Improve your parenting skills by showing your child how to behave, how to manage stressful circumstances and how to deal with unreasonable people. Show them the tools they need to succeed.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Your first rule of parenting should be, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Your once meticulously clean home will now be scattered with teeny tiny T-shirts, diapers, an assortment of baby paraphernalia, as well as an array of furniture that doesn't match your decor. Your schedule is off, your meals are rushed and your once quiet home is now full of activity. Priorities change. Those inconsequential, day-to-day mishaps are a part of life -- let it go. Spilled milk, muddy jeans, broken shoelaces -- let it go. And don't let good behavior be a condition of your love. Love is unconditional; you need to ensure that your child understands that.

Parental Displays of Affection

Parental displays of affection create a secure environment where your child is reminded daily that you love them, that they are important and that they are your priority. Take some time in the morning to give them a hug and wish them a great day -- it will do wonders for you, too. Don't give your child the opportunity to question your love. Parents who are too busy or preoccupied with their own lives will lose so much more than they ever imagined.

Parent First, Friend Second

Many parents try to be their child's friend, instead of their parent. The best way to improve your parenting skills is to practice being a parent. Set limits, be consistent and establish boundaries with consequences if those boundaries are crossed. Few jobs give your child, as an adult, carte blanch to do whatever, whenever he wants. Teach them now how to follow rules, have limits, develop self-control and take responsibility for their actions. It can be harsh out there; give them the skills to take it in stride.

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Valerie Liles has been writing about landscape and garden design since 1980. As a registered respiratory therapist, she also has experience in family health, nutrition and pediatric and adult asthma managment. Liles holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University and a Master of Science in technical communication from the University of Colorado.

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