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15 ways to be a better mom
Rupal Patel
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July 11, 2007

It goes without saying that mothers have an important role to play in their children's lives. Here are a few tips on how you can be a better parent to your child:

1. Respect and value your child 

Always respect your children -- respect and listen to their views and values, their opinions. Give them your complete attention when they want to talk to you. Put whatever activity you are engaged in on hold, and if that's not possible, set a time for when you can chat, and make sure to stick to it.

Encourage your children every opportunity you get. Make them feel special and express your love for them often. Hug them, kiss them and say 'I love you' everyday, not just when they are young but also as they grow older. Let them feel your love and affection as often as you can.

2. Talk to your kids

Conversing with children is the best way to influence their ability and love for learning. Children who are spoken to often as infants will understand more words when they are toddlers and pre-schoolers than others. Communication also strengthens the mother-child bond and eases out the communication barriers, even as kids grow older.

3. Have fun with them

Mothers are so busy with their day-to-day routines that they forget to have fun with their children. Take out one-on-one time to enjoy with your child. Do something that both of you like -- indulge in outdoor games, art and craft, board games, go for a walk, chat, cook -- do anything at all that makes you feel good. Laugh together, tickle each other, dance, sing songs, just have FUN!

4. Read to your little ones

Reading to your children is the best way to inculcate a reading habit in them, which leads to a love of learning as they grow older. Reading also creates an emotional bond between parent and the child, whether it's lap-time reading, bedtime reading or any other way of doing it that you both enjoy. Moreover, it develops their imagination, creativity, vocabulary and communication skills.

5. Keep your children safe

All parents want to keep their kids safe. Remember to take the necessary precautions, whether it is making them sit in the backseat of the car while driving, or making sure that there is someone responsible with them at all times. Make sure your home is childproof, with electrical outlets out of reach, furniture edges rounded off, glass items out of the way etc.

6. Teach your children values

Make sure to impart good values to your kids -- it's the best gift you'll ever give them. Values are the foundation of a child's character. Teach your children values through everyday interactions, stories and by the way you conduct yourself. While story-telling, however, make sure you don't connect the story to the child. If, for example, you want to teach your little one about honesty, tell him/ her interesting stories related to it. Do not say, "You should behave in the same manner as so-and-so did and always tell the truth" -- the message will not sink in. To a youngster, this feels like nagging and moralising, which will go in one ear and out the other. 

7. Be a good role model

Remember that your kids are watching you all the time and want to ape you in every possible way. Even very young children take in and listen to everything their parents say and do, so remain aware of your actions and behaviour around them. For example, if you talk rudely to the domestic help, you will not be very successful in teaching your children the value of politeness. Model the behaviour that you want them to develop.

8. Keep your kids healthy, but allow them their personal likes and dislikes when it comes to food

Provide nutritious meals for your children, but allow them to make their own choices about what they like or don't like. As long as you are providing them with nutritious options and not junk food, they will almost always make the right choices. With young children, try and be creative with their meals, so that it's fun for them. If, for instance, there is cooked vegetable and chapattis for dinner, fold some cooked veggies into each chapatti so that the kids can enjoy it as a roll. 

9. Set rules and limits

A good mother is firm and flexible. Don't leave discipline only to a child's father. Set reasonable rules and limits and discuss them with your kids beforehand. Follow through with the consequences whenever applicable. However, there are times when you have to be flexible and ease the rules; times when youngsters are tired, sleepy, hungry or not well.

10. Be just and fair

Treat all your children in the same manner. However, don't try to be overly fair, as it will get in the way -- for example, if you are out shopping and spot a book that one of your kids needs for a reference project, you do not necessarily have to buy something for the other child. Similarly, bring the other child what he/ she requires when it's needed. As long as you are providing for both of them equally, they will understand and not make an issue. When you try to be overly fair, children tend to find faults with every little thing you do.

11. Don't interfere in your children's fights unless it's necessary

Allow your kids to settle issues on their own. As long as there is no bullying or physical violence, do not get involved in their fights. When you try to resolve their disputes, you will be required to take sides and this will not go down well with one of them. It is better to allow children to handle their own problems as far as possible. If they are not able to do it, or you feel like the situation is getting to you, ask them to play separately till they are able to be civil to each other and find a solution. You will be doing them a favour by teaching them the values of co-operation, problem-solving and compromise in the process.

12. Honour their father

One of the best things a mother can do is honour her children's father in front of them. Even if you are separated or divorced, never speak ill about your spouse in front of your children. Talk about him with respect and teach your children to respect him too.

13. Get the kids to interact with extended family

Get your children to bond with extended family -- uncles, aunts, cousins. Make an effort so that they interact with both the maternal and paternal sides. Even if you don't get along with your in-laws, teach your children to respect their grandparents. They will hold you in higher esteem for doing that.

14. Keep your self-respect intact

Always expect to be treated with respect by others in the presence of your kids and by your kids themselves. Do not allow anyone to cross a line. Maintain your dignity under all circumstances; be honest and keep your integrity intact always.

15. Take care of yourself

Sleep well and take out time for yourself. Keep yourself in good health. Remember, a happy, relaxed mother can give more of herself to her children and family than an overworked, tense parent.


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