Effective parenting guidelines are ways to promote positive and healthy parent/child relationships. Like all relationships, a mutual respect must be established. The child must respects the parent’s authority, while trusting their decision making abilities. Parents must respect the developmental needs of the child, while ensuring these needs are met. This forms a bond built on trust and respect, nurturing a balanced and strong emotional connection.

Provide your child with a set time each day that is all about them. We talk about needing ‘me’ time, but it is the same for children. They need ‘them’ time just as badly. Setting aside time each day that is focused on the child not only provides them with healthy attention, it also provides them with structure. Creating this time slot in your daily schedule gives them something to look forward to, something they can count on. This further establishes respect and trust.

Do not set a standard you aren't willing to enforce then, and there. When you tell your child to do something, it must be an enforceable request or command. If the child does not follow through, do not idly threat. You must take immediate action in order to demonstrate that when you say something, you mean it. Whatever the punishment or consequence is, it should be put into full effect each and every time, consistently.

Never make a promise you cannot keep. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you are planning something that is not a sure thing, keep it to yourself until you are positive you will be able to follow through. Either that, or always say something is not a definite thing, but a tentative plan. Children take promises very seriously. They take their parents words as fact, unmoving and unyielding. Don’t disappoint them, and you will nourish trust.

Try to never disagree on punishments or decisions concerning the child, in front of the child. Doing this demonstrates a weakness in the authoritative chain. It shows the child that there is an issue with them at the center. It further weakens the respect for this authority and the trust in decision making. It can even complicate the development of emotional processes when a child witnesses an argument or tense discussion that is centered on them.

By setting guidelines not only for the child, but for yourself, you accept that the parent/child relationship is one that must be nurtured and conditioned. Maintaining a balance between authority, attention, discipline, and respect will help to ensure constructive child development. It will also help to ensure a healthy and positive child/parent relationship.

Trisha Festerling, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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