Type "good parenting" into Google and... whoa. 519,000 results to sift through.
Search for "parenting" in the books section on Amazon and... holy cow. 1,979 new titles. And those are just the books that have been released over the last 30 days!
Clearly, when it comes to "effective parenting," there's a deluge of information out there.
It's no wonder that so many parents feel overwhelmed and confused about how to set rules, apply consequences, discipline their kids appropriately (without being too harsh, or too lenient), and so on, and so on.
While parenting is big, important work, that doesn't mean that it has to be a "mysterious" or "complicated" process.
In actuality -- as I've found through my work as a psychologist, coach, and family law attorney, supporting families over the past 28 years -- raising awesome kids comes down to a small collection of "simple truths." Basic guidelines to remember and follow, most of which are pretty intuitive, and many of which you are probably already doing. (Phew!).
So, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed... take a deep breath. Return to the basics.
Live these "simple truths" as consistently as you can, and you -- and your kids -- are likely to be on the right track.
8 truths to remember & live by:
1. You are your child's primary role model. You child is naturally wired to look up to you, mimic you, and follow in your footsteps. Which means...
2. You cannot expect your child to behave in a way that you do not behave. If you want your child to change his or her habits (say, spending less time on the computer, being more patient, being more responsible and organized) make sure that you are modeling those behaviors, first.
3. "Talking" to your child is rarely enough to create a permanent change. Conversations can be a good starting point, but conversations alone rarely influence kids' decisions. Supervision, rules and consequences do.
4. Setting firm rules -- and applying consequences when your child chooses not to comply with the rules -- does not make you "cruel" or "unfair." It makes you an effective teacher, helping your child to learn important lessons about how the world works.
5. Charts are your best friend. Use visual charts to spell out rules, chores, expectations, and consequences for violating them. Have your child use checkmarks or gold stars to mark down what's been completed each day. Review your child's chart daily. If something gets missed, ask your child, "What is the consequence for that?" This daily routine encourages your child to develop self-reliance and personal responsibility. (I have seen marriages SAVED and chaotic homes turned into peaceful abodes because the parents chose to adopt this organizational system. Seriously. Try it.)
6. Remember that kids are not born rude, defiant, insolent, greedy, selfish, etc. These are "learned behaviors." Which means they can be unlearned, too.
7. Remember that it is never too late to make positive changes. Never too late to equip your child with more tools, more life skills, more lessons. If you are consistent with your efforts (enforcing consequences consistently, for example) you may be surprised by how quickly your child's behavior improves.
8. Always instigate positive changes by modeling the behavior, attitude and values that you wish to see in your child. Yes, this is essentially a "repeat" of the first truth I listed, but it's so important, it bears repeating.
Be the kind of person that your child can trust, respect, and admire.
Be a role model, a teacher, a hero. You child is counting on you. Watching you. Absorbing what you do.
It all starts with you.
Dr. Suzanne Gelb is a clinical psychologist, life coach and family law attorney.
She believes that it is never too late to become the person you want to be. Strong. Confident. Calm. Creative. Free of all of the burdens that have held you back -- no matter what has happened in the past.
Her insights on personal growth have been featured on more than 200 radio programs, 200 TV interviews and online at Time, Forbes, Newsweek, NBC's Today, The Daily Love, MindBodyGreen, and much more.
Step into her virtual office at DrSuzanneGelb.com, explore her blog, book a coaching session, wave hello on Twitter and Facebook, and / or sign up to receive a free meditation and her weekly writings on health, happiness and self-respect.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always contact your health practitioner before beginning any new health or well-being practice for yourself or your family.
photo credit: Faith painting at easel via photopin (license)