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Children have the ability to touch the very depths of our souls. One moment we’re feeling love and joy; the next moment, frustration, incompetence and at times, despair. Parenting our children is definitely the most important job we will ever have.

Yet at times there is reluctance to reach out for assistance and support. The following “10 Tips for Effective Parenting” are meant to assist in establishing a nurturing, loving and encouraging relationship for both parent and child.


1. Set limits and stick to them.

Are limits for your children or you? Actually both, however, it is the parent’s role to set the limits for themselves and by doing so, you are setting limits for your children. Limits tell your family under what conditions you are willing or unwilling to do something. They signify where you “draw the line.” They tell people what you will or will not tolerate. The purpose of limits is to take care of you. Limits are not designed to control or manipulate someone else’s behavior. Children need limits so they can recognize and respect other people’s limits. Limits provide a sense of security for children. Children need limits to learn how to deal with conflict and limits help children define who they are. A few examples of setting limits parents may want to begin with are:

  1. The use of your belongings.

  2. Television. How much to watch and what programs you watch in your home?

  3. Mealtime. How do you want your family mealtimes to be?

  4. Responsibilities in your home (chores for allowance).

  5. Driving in the car. The music on the radio, arguing in the car, how often are you driving your children.

Below are a few tips to begin setting limits:

  1. Be clear about what you want and what you’re willing to do or not do.

  2. Tell your family, using an “I” statement. Do not blame, shame, lay on guilt, exaggerate, or complain.

  3. Be ready to stick to your guns. Be consistent and follow through. It is imperative you do what you say.

  4. Think carefully before you set a limit to be sure you can follow through and enforce it when your child tests you. Remember, it is normal for children to test limits.

2. Use Consequences – Natural and Logical.

What’s the difference? A natural consequence is the result of the child’s action that will occur naturally, without any interference from anyone. For example, if a child forgets to wear a jacket to school, he/she will be chilly at recess and most likely remember to wear their jacket the next day. Natural consequence provides a greater learning experience for children. Parents, ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn’t do anything?” There are times when natural consequences would not be appropriate; obviously when the natural consequence would be harmful to the well-being of your child. Also, when the effects of the natural consequence are too long range for the child to connect cause and effect.

For Logical consequences to be effective, they must incorporate the 3 R’s:

Related: The consequence must be related to your child’s mistake. If he makes a mess, he cleans it up. If he hurts someone, he tries to ease the pain. If he damages something, he repairs or replaces it.

Respectful: Always show respect for your child. Allow him as much input as possible into the determination of the consequence. Avoid anything that causes your child to feel guilt or shame so that he doesn’t view the consequence as a punishment.

Reasonable: Consequences that are excessive or harsh cause your child to focus on what he perceives as punishment and he is then likely to act in a revengeful way.

The difference between consequences and punishment is that a consequence teaches the child to be responsible for repairing his mistake and punishment results in anger and resentment.

Logical consequences are to improve future behavior, not punish past behavior.


3. Power Struggles: Give your child more power to reduce conflict.

Everyone needs to feel powerful in their life, including children. When children are given some power in their life, through choices, then they will feel more powerful and engage in less power struggles with their parents. Think of situations where you can give them power.


4. Withdraw from conflict.

Withdrawing from a conflict is the first step to reducing power struggles. This takes the fuel out of the fire and no one is winning anyway. It takes two people to argue if one withdraws, the conflict ends. Withdrawing buys time to cool off, think and respond logically rather than reacting emotionally with angst.


5. Use action, not words.

Instead of nagging, ask yourself, “What action could I take?” For example, if you tell your child that you will only wash the clothes that are in the clothes hamper and you pick up dirty clothes and wash them, your action do not match your words. Instead, stick to your word and only wash the clothes that are in the hamper. When he wants to wear his favorite pair of jeans, and the dirty jeans are still in the corner of his room, he will remember the next time. You have taken action without nagging.


6. Separate the deed from the doer.

Never tell a child that she is bad. Make sure your child understands that it is not that you do not like her, but it is her behavior that you are unwilling to tolerate.


7. Create time for yourself and couple time.

It is paramount as parents that we take time out for ourselves to relax and have fun. If at all possible, even 10-15 minutes a day is recommended to spend time doing whatever allows you to feel relaxed. Equally important is to schedule couple time in your routine that will enable your relationship with your significant other to flourish. When you are feeling rested, relaxed and happy, then you will parent with patience and joy.


8. Be consistent and follow through.

Have you ever heard the expression, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times!” Instead say it one time and follow through with the action, consequence, etc.a thousand times. If you want respect from your child, when you make an agreement with your child, do not give in to demands or whining. Your child will learn to respect you more if you mean what you say. Think before you speak.


9. Parent with the end in mind.

Most of us parent with the mindset to get the situation under control – ASAP. For example if your child is having a temper tantrum in the store, in order to avoid embarrassment, we feel the need to control the child physically or give in to his demands. Therefore, think instead, “I told my child no toys today”, stick to it and leave the store if necessary. If you feel the urge to spank, please know that if you spank your child, the child will learn to use acts of aggression to get what he wants in the future.


10. Take a parenting class.

Parenting takes time, patience and training. Once you’ve made the decision to become a parent, make the commitment to learn effective parenting skills. Most parents are parenting the best way they know, which is usually how they were parented. Times have changed, our children’s lives are vastly different from when we were growing up. A parenting class will give you the tools, techniques and an increased confidence to raise healthy, respectful, responsible, compassionate children. Think of the gift that you give your child by replacing yelling with laughter in the home. Also, once your child has been raised with positive parenting, he will pass on his parenting to your grandchildren. It only requires a few hours of your time. Your children are worth it!


These parenting tips were brought to you from Families First, Irvine, CA. Terri Altwies, is the Executive Director of Families First, which provides on-going parenting classes to organizations throughout Southern California. Currently Terri is the Parent Educator at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where she conducts all their parenting classes. Terri is certified as a Parent Educator by the International Network for Children and Families.

EFFECTIVE PARENTING: 10 TIPS TO LIVE BY was taken from a class she gives and the content was taken from the parenting curriculum, Redirecting Children’s Behavior written by Kathryn Kvols, President of the International Network for Children and Families, in Gainesville, Florida.

For additional parenting information or questions, Terri can be reached at 949-387-0103 or Email

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