By RUTH LIEW
HOW many times do I have to tell you to stop kicking?”
"Why don’t you just sit still and be quiet?”
“Eat this. It is good for you.”
“No sweets or chocolates before dinner.”
These are some of the remarks that many parents can identify with. Indeed, getting kids to do what you want can be quite a problem.
Parenting requires a person to have the patience of a saint. But most of us are struggling to do the best that we can. Here are 20 tried and tested ways to help parents juggle with work and family commitments.
1. Keep a consistent and simple daily routine for young children so that they know what to expect. Children will regulate their behaviour according to what is expected of them.
2. Prepare for the next day, the night before. Mothers know how to keep stress-free mornings by preparing the family meal the night before. I like to prepare soup in the slow-cooker the night before so that it will be ready in time for an early lunch.
3. Keep a family calendar. Planning ahead for time together and keeping appointments are two effective ways to avoid any stress and hassle for families with young children. In this way you can balance work and play so that you can spend time with your children.
4. Keep meal preparations fuss-free. Young children do not know the difference between a meal that took hours to prepare and one that was put together in minutes. Well-planned meals can be prepared in a jiffy and even young children can be roped in to help out. Get the whole family to sit down for a meal when you are not in a rush.
5. Let children do as much as they can by themselves. Assign simple tasks that are age-appropriate to your children so that they can learn responsibility. Start them young and you may find your children growing up to be good helpers in the family and community.
6. Start the day with a smile. Make it a rule that everyone smiles and says a prayer of thanks first thing in the morning. My mother taught us this when we were children. She told us that we could make a difference in how our day turned out if we started each day by giving thanks to our Maker.
7. Get involved in your child’s kindergarten, daycare or school. Parents who are in constant contact with their children’s teacher or daycare provider can encourage their children to be more positive about learning and being with other people.
8. Spend 15 minutes a day with each of your children. Parents find that they can communicate better with their children when they spend time with them individually.
9. If you are a working parent who sends your child to a caregiver, get the latter to keep a diary of your child’s activities and milestones in development. This has helped many parents to maintain a positive relationship with their child and the caregiver.
10. Start a bedtime routine with your children. Take half an hour or an hour for winding down activities such as a read-aloud session, a sing-along or cleaning-up routine. Young babies and toddlers enjoy having a warm bath before bedtime while young children like a small snack or a hot drink.
11. Prepare for those unexpected days when your child falls sick or gets hurt. You may want to keep some of your leave days for your child, even when you have reliable childcare or extended family help. Children need their parents to be with them when they are unwell or feeling upset.
12. Hold surprise outings such as family picnics or a visit to the zoo. Children do get revitalised by fun surprises.
13. Schedule regular family meetings for children to talk about their ups and downs. Listen to your children’s grouses without interrupting them. You can help your children to work out their problems by getting them to reflect on their ideas. Children feel encouraged when their parents trust them to come up with the right decisions.
14. Play with your child. No matter how old your child is, playing is fun and helps to develop a strong bond between parent and child. You can discover a great deal about your child and boost his confidence in learning and taking risks.
15. Read with your child. A family who reads together, stays together. Instead of watching television together, make time to share an interesting book with your child. Effective readers have parents who are enthusiastic readers themselves.
16. Getting children to eat what you want can be easy when you know how. Many parents have learned not to fuss over fussy eaters. They just make the best of what they have. You can try giving small meals of the type of food your children like. Getting children to grow their own vegetables so that they will eat some has proven to be helpful for some families.
17. Be a volunteer. You can be a good role-model for your children to learn how to be kind and helpful. Children learn values when they are part of the action. Parents who are community volunteers impart positive values on citizenship.
18. Parents who make time for themselves usually do a better job in parenting. Take time off to renew your relationship with your spouse. Go on dates or have a meal together without the children.
19. Write down your parenting goals. Putting down in words what you hope for your children and your family can be very enlightening. Many parents have done so and find it useful when facing difficulty in coping with the challenges of daily living.
20. Be a learner first and a teacher second. Observe your child carefully and study his behaviour. You can gain more about how to teach your child by following his lead.
The Star - Thursday 18/9/03