Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
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
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
How can I be a
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
- Show your love. Every day, tell your
children: "I love you. You're special to me." Give lots of hugs and kisses.
- Listen when your children talk. Listening
to your children tells them that you think they're important and that you're
interested in what they have to say.
- Make your children feel safe. Comfort them
when they're scared. Show them you've taken steps to protect them.
- Provide order in their lives. Keep a
regular schedule of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the
schedule, tell them about the changes ahead of time.
- Praise your children. When your children
learn something new or behave well, tell them you're proud of them.
- Criticize the behavior, not the child.
When your child makes a mistake, don't say, "You were bad." Instead, explain
what the child did wrong. For example, say: "Running into the street without
looking isn't safe." Then tell the child what to do instead: "First, look both
ways for cars."
- Be consistent. Your rules don't have to be
the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent.
(Consistent means the rules are the same all the time.) If two parents are
raising a child, both need to use the same rules. Also, make sure baby sitters
and relatives know, and follow, your family rules.
- Spend time with your children. Do things
together, like reading, walking, playing and cleaning house. What children want
most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually their way of getting your
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