our everyday life

Parenting Skills Exercises

by Joann MacDonald, studioD

As a parent, you are responsible for the care, education, nurturing and growth of a living being. That's no small task. When that living being has her own personality, preferences and demands, a conscientious parent often needs a bit of help to cope. Exercises geared to improving your parenting skills can help.

Be Together

Spend time each day actively being with your child. Ask her what activity she would like to spend the next 15 minutes sharing with you. Or, ask her to help you with an age-appropriate task, anything from washing dishes to cleaning the car. OneToughJob.org recommends that you resist the impulse to provide directions, ask questions or criticize while performing a task with your child. Instead, take notice of what she is doing and how she is feeling and treat her to plenty of positive praise.

Be a Relationship Role Model

Think about how you interact with others, particularly your spouse. Your children are always watching and learning from their parents and other adults. According to the website for KidsHealth, this doesn't mean you have to do the right thing all the time. Your children need to know that nobody's perfect -- even Mom and Dad. But you can strive to be a good role model by demonstrating traits such as friendliness, generosity and tolerance. Psychotherapist and parenting expert Alyson Schafer recommends asking yourself what your children see each day when they see their parents interacting. Are you loving and kind or cold and dismissive? She advises demonstrating simple kindnesses, such as starting each day with a hug and a kiss.

Be Your Child

Imagine daily life from your child's perspective. Authors Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, in the book "Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting," recommend that you let go of your own point of view for at least a few moments a day. Think about how your child faces the world. Imagine how you look and sound to your child. When you see yourself, are you being the parent you hoped you would be? Think about how you could conduct yourself differently next time you are rushed, angry or upset.

Be Mindful

Be mindful of your relationship with your child. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware from moment to moment. Pay attention to your child without judgment, according to "Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting." Practice looking at her as though she is perfect just the way she is. Work to accept her even in the moments when you find it difficult to do so. Be mindful of how your expectations of your child affect her and her sense of self-worth. When you are feeling at a loss or angry, stand still and bring your full attention to your child. If you're unsure about how to react, remain silent until you know what needs to be said.

About the Author

Joann MacDonald has been a professional writer for 17 years. She holds a degree in English and a Master of Arts in journalism. For more than 14 years, she was a communications specialist for a large public school system. She has also written for numerous magazines in the Greater Toronto Area. She blogs about thrift store shopping, parenting and vegetarian cooking.

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