Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Parenting Tips

I love my children, but being a parent can be so hard!

Being a parent can be a joy, but it's also a tough job. No parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. Even loving parents sometimes do things they don't mean to do, like slap a child or call a child a bad name. But if you think you're having trouble controlling yourself, get help so a pattern of abuse doesn't start.

I get so frustrated sometimes. Is this normal?

Yes. All parents get frustrated. Children take a lot of time and energy. Parenting is even harder when you have problems in your life, such as worries about your job, your bills or your relationships, or problems with alcohol or drugs. To be a good parent, you have to take care of yourself. That means getting help for your problems.

What can I do when I feel frustrated?

Take a break. Everyone needs a break from being a parent once in a while. If you have another adult in your family, take turns getting away. For example, have your partner stay with the children so you can visit friends. Take turns sleeping late on the weekends. If you're a single parent, ask friends and relatives to help by running some errands for you. Maybe they could watch your child while you go out.

I sometimes lose my temper. Does that mean I'm a bad parent?

No. Many parents lose their temper with their children. It's OK to feel angry, but it's not OK to take it out on your children. When you're really angry, take a break. For example, take your children for a walk or call a friend to come help you. If you feel angry with your child almost every day or have trouble controlling your temper, get some help. You might talk to your family doctor. There are groups that can help parents, too. One group is listed at the end of this handout.

Is it OK to spank my child?

Spanking isn't the best way to discipline children. The goal of discipline is to teach children self-control. Spanking just teaches children to stop doing something out of fear. There are better ways to discipline children.
One good way for infants and toddlers is called "redirecting." When you redirect a child, you replace an unwanted (bad) behavior with an acceptable (good) behavior. For example, if throwing a ball inside the house isn't allowed, take your child outside to throw the ball.
With older children, try to get them to see the consequences of their actions and to take responsibility for them. For example, you can explain to your son that everyone had to wait for dinner because he didn't set the table when he was supposed to. Explain that he has to wash the dishes after dinner because he didn't set the table before dinner.

How can I be a good parent?

There's not just one right way to raise children. And there's no such thing as a perfect parent--or a perfect child. But here are some guidelines to help your children grow up healthy and happy:

Who can I ask when I need help raising my child?

There are many ways to get good parenting advice. Sign up for parenting classes offered by hospitals, community centers or schools. Read parenting books or magazines. Talk to your family doctor, a minister, a priest or a counselor.
You can also ask your family doctor for parenting help. Don't be embarrassed to ask. Raising children is hard, and no one can do it alone. Your doctor can help you with issues like discipline, potty training, eating problems and bedtime. Your doctor can also help you find local groups that can help you learn better parenting skills. Here is a national group that can help you. (You can also check your local phone book for parenting groups.)
National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse (NCPCA): www.childabuse.org