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Cheat Sheet

Raising Happy Children For Dummies (UK Edition)

Everybody wants the very best for their children but are you sometimes driven to distraction by your little darlings? This Cheat Sheet gives you some quick and effective tips for being the best parent you can be, even when the kids are testing your patience.

Tips for Creating a ‘We’ Mentality for Your Family

A ‘we’ mentality is a sense of personal family identity in contrast to a ‘me’ mentality of individualism. A ‘we’ mentality builds trust, support, loyalty, love and a true foundation for security and self-esteem. Here are some tips for building a ‘we’ mentality:

  • Encourage family traditions. A family tradition is any activity the entire family does together, such as preparing a roast on Sundays, watching football on the TV, or going on an annual camping holiday.

  • Create memories. Memories don’t have to be of expensive holidays or of receiving lavish gifts. They can be simple moments of being together or of something funny that someone said or did.

  • Take time to talk. Talk about your experiences and your needs and take time to listen to each other.

  • Work together to develop your family’s rules and routines. State the rules in a positive way and don’t have too many of them.

Communicating Effectively with Your Children

Notice and think about how you communicate with your children on a daily basis. ‘Talking at’ your child and ‘talking with’ your child are two very different things – rather like ‘laughing at’ or ‘laughing with’ someone. Here are some tips for improving your communication with your children:

  • Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question needs a descriptive answer. Open-ended questions typically begin with interrogative words – how, what, when, who and where. Open-ended questions help a child develop his or her thought processes.

  • Listen to your tone of voice. Pay attention over the next week to how you say things to your children. If you don’t like how you’re saying things, change your tone. Have you ever heard your child admonishing another with your exact words and tone? Scary, isn’t it?

  • Make eye contact. If your message is important, deliver it while keeping eye contact. Maintain eye contact when you listen to your child’s reply, showing that you’re really engaged with them.

  • Repeat back what your children say. Doing so shows them that you really understand them and are taking the time to listen. Paraphrase and summarise the gist of what your kids have said rather than repeating them parrot-fashion.

Disciplining Your Children

Managing your children’s behaviour takes hard work, persistence, dedication, a sense of perspective and a healthy sense of humour! Here are some quick tips for when you’re about to really lose your rag:

  • Be firm and fair in stating your expectations.

  • Tell your children – don’t ask them – what you expect. Of course, be polite, but don’t keep saying ‘please’ in a desperate way.

  • Use the words ‘I want you to . . .’ when you introduce an expectation. These words clearly state what you want your kids to do.

  • Use your body language and facial expression to convey that you mean what you’re saying.

  • Try being surprised when things go wrong rather than angry – doing so works wonders.

  • Distract your child if they’re having a tantrum. Pretend you find something really fascinating and get your toddler to come and have a look.

  • Ground an older child, or send them to their room.

  • Let your child know that you love them, but that you strongly dislike their behaviour.

  • Press your internal pause button. Step back and take a deep breath. Leave the room and go and shout in the garden. Pound a pillow or swear quietly under your breath. Come back to the situation feeling calmer.

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