7 things you can do right now to be a better parent

For today’s post, we’re planning to share everything you need to know about parenting – to make you the perfect caregiver and help your kids become the best children on earth.

Just kidding.

You know that being a parent doesn’t come with a clear instruction guide. (Despite what some parenting books would have you believe.) And it doesn’t always come naturally, either. (Despite what you may be told.)

So while you may be bombarded with advice about raising children and being a caregiver, it can also be challenging to find quick and simple tips to implement right now.

But these seven ideas won’t take months of work (and tears) to put into action. Try a few of our ideas today – or even right now – to help you grow into an even better parent. (Because we know you rock already.)

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Take care of yourself.

Just like the flight attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you, you must focus on you before spending all your energy on your children.

Put some time and attention into yourself. Date your husband and go out with friends. Exercise, eat right, and nurture your interests and hobbies.

“By better caring for yourself, you can better care for your children,” says Sue Klingaman, early childhood mental health consultant at Robert Young Center.

Forgive yourself for mistakes.

We can’t spend all our time dwelling on mistakes as a parent.

If you yelled at your son, apologize. And then move on.

If you keep losing your temper with your daughter, identify the root cause and fix it. And then move on.

Worrying about mistakes you have made will only make you crazy. We all mess up sometimes. (Check out our tips for handling mistakes.)

“We’re all human,” says Jen Best, certified family life educator with Iowa State University Extension. Cut yourself a little slack – and then move on.

Be consistent.

The best thing you can do as a caregiver is follow through and be consistent with your children. If they believe you will change your mind, your kids will push you more. They will fight longer and harder.

“Children need consistency to help them structure their lives,” says Jen.

Angie Kendall, director of development and communications, agrees. “Kids need and want discipline,” she explains. “They need someone to love them enough to set boundaries and expectations.”

So if you are waffling and giving into your child regularly, set the boundaries now and be consistent. (And remember that it’s equally important to talk to your partner and agree on boundaries. No one wants to be the bad cop.)

Be curious about your child.

Your child tells you so many things – but only if you pay attention.

Put aside the distractions and really watch and listen to your child. You could learn a lot, which could help you parent more effectively. All children are different, and the