It doesn’t matter whether you are a single parent by choice, due to divorce, separation or death of your partner, you can, most certainly, raise happy well-rounded children.
There are many experts in child behavior, and they all have different views on how to raise a child successfully. They offer effective single parenting strategies to help a parent understand that effective discipline teaches a child why certain behavior is wrong and how to correct it.
As a single parent, your role is critical to your child’s development, and acting as a mentor will allow you to have a deep influence on them. By being the first supportive male or female in your child’s life, you will be teaching them valuable life lessons, as well as providing them with the self-esteem and confidence necessary for personal and professional achievement, and a lasting foundation on which to build their life.
It can be difficult being a single parent, and often as a single parent you are tempted to just give in to your child and let them be the decision maker in everything. You may prefer to give in to your child and let them play with fragile items to keep them quiet, and then become furious if they’re broken. Prepare ahead of time for periods when your child is likely to feel tired. The late-afternoon hours are often a period of high stress and low energy, when parents and children tend to overreact to one another. Help your child cope by allowing a few healthy snacks, quiet activity and giving positive reinforcement for being good. There are a range of other excellent single parenting strategies that can certainly help towards developing a sound relationship of mutual self-respect between you and your child.
Teach Your Children to Trust You
There will be times in your child’s life when you should be lenient, but there will also be times when you should be stern. Unfortunately many single parents can get caught up in one type of thinking and then use that for every type of scenario. Because of the realistic fears concerning our children’s safety for instance, we may train them to be careful and cautious and not to trust anyone, but over – protection and premature rescuing out of certain situations may foster dependency and fear. The bottom line is that you care about your child, but the message your behavior is sending may not be one that is building self-esteem. Teach your child that he or she can trust you. Trust comes from leveling with your child, even if it causes them to be angry or scared. Trust also means keeping your promises. When you say you will do something, it is important to follow through.
Time Spent Together
It is difficult and challenging to be a parent today, and it is difficult finding the time to be alone with your child, but one single parent family strategy that is absolutely imperative is finding time to spend with your child. Hard though it sometimes may be, it is important to always try to put on a brave smiling face for your child’s sake. Small children particularly shouldn’t be burdened with adult problems, and your kids will be able to cope better and enjoy life when they believe you are coping well.
Take into consideration the following tips:
- do you spend time alone with your child – activities that don’t require anything from the child except to have fun with you
- do you take your child camping or fishing, to the movies, for a walk, or to a sports event. Activities such as these promote bonding and the importance thereof in a different setting.
- do not discuss financial matters and investments with your child at too young an age, as they should not feel burdened with problems which they can not fix
- take your child to your work to show them where you go each day
Involve your children in your life; in most cases your child will be so pleased to have your attention that he or she won’t care what you are actually doing together. This can be the start of a whole new approach to your role as a single parent, one which will ultimately be more refreshing and gratifying than you ever imagined.
You should also build rapport with your children so that they know that they can trust you. This can be brought on by telling your child stories of when you were their age. Your child will love to hear you talking about this because they can identify with it and relate you on a different level. This may also help them to see you in a different light; not just as the disciplinarian or provider, but also as a person who was that age once.
Single Parenting Strategies for Housework
Assuming that you are the sole financial provider, you will not have all the time in the world for household chores after a long day at work. It is therefore important that you get your children into a routine of doing chores, not only to lighten your workload, but also so that they learn the importance of doing things for themselves. Draw up a schedule to indicate when who should be doing what; laying the table, tidying up rooms, unpacking the dishwasher, feeding pets and so on. Such a structure is very beneficial for children, and having it up in writing where the whole family can see it will eliminate confusion.
Do Not Allow Your Frustrations to get the Better of You
Too often your conversations with your child turn out to be loaded with frustration like “how many times do I have to tell you to take your hands off that bookcase?”. This is understandable, however, as you are the sole head of the household and all responsibilities lie only with you, but your child may not recognize this yet. Such conversations are full of commands and accusations, and although you certainly need to discipline your child, you must ensure that you are not exerting pressure like this on too many occasions. Remember that children, depending on their age, are not always fully aware of consequences, nor do they always fully understand the situation when being yelled at. You should explain in a calm manner, exactly why you do not want him to touch the bookcase, and that it is for his or her safety as well.
Communicate Feelings Between You and Your Child
It is a good idea to teach children to communicate their feelings so they won’t bottle them up inside. Once you know what the problem is, you can deal with the issues effectively, rather than feeling mystified by the moodiness or aggressive behavior. Teach your child that anger is normal and help them talk about feelings. You can teach your child to release negative emotions physically through safe outlets like painting an angry picture. When you as a single parent are tuned in to your child, your should receive a positive response, and a wonderful relationship can then be set in motion. Keep your relationship solid by establishing firm boundaries that you are still the boss and that your child is definitely not the one running the show. Too many single parents try to make up to their child by allowing their children to be their equal; their buddy, and then wonder why their children show no respect.
Don’t Be Your Child’s Buddy
As a single parent, you may want to be seen as your child’s best friend instead of being the best parent a child can have. This is completely normal, as of course you want to build up a strong and happy relationship, but you must maintain a balance between being a friend and being a parent. Teenagers, particularly, need someone who is setting an example for them and always offering unconditional love. There are single parents who do all they can, and in spite of this they have a child who is disrespectful, defiant and disobedient. Sometimes in cases like this, as a single parent, you will need to turn to someone for help like the minster of your church or another counselor; do not be afraid to ask for help.
Parenting a Teenager Has Greater Challenges
Parenting a young child is hard enough, but trying to be a good parent to a teenager provides greater challenges. As a modern parent, you have to deal with an array of difficult issues that were possibly unknown to you as a young teen. Single parenting strategies for teens of today will be different from how they were years ago, but there are ways you can become an effective single parent. Being open is important to teens and you can be helpful in keeping the lines of communication open.
Always find time to talk to your teenager so that they know that when they are upset there is always an ear to listen to them and that you are interested in what is being said. The point here is that your child needs to know that no matter what situation, they can always turn to you for help or advise, and should not avoid you for fear of being punished harshly. The fact that your teenager turns to you in their time of need should be appreciated and rewarded. That is not to say that you should not punish your teenager if her or she decides to take your car for a joyride without your permission, for example. Just remember to show your appreciation for their honesty, and then calmly yet harshly explain the reasons why this is off-limits, and deliver an apt punishment.
Take Care of Yourself
All single parents should want to be active and healthy for their children’s sake; you don’t want them to be ashamed of you because your hair is unwashed and your clothes are crumpled. Pay special attention to your diet and exercise with your child because you need to be an example to your child and set these examples. In addition to this being for the benefit of your child, this will also help you to continue to feel good about yourself as a person, not just a parent. Raising a child on your own is a tremendous feat, and there is no question that you deserve some time to appreciate and reward yourself.
A new relationship will be wonderful for you, but it may mean you need to pay a little more attention to your child, while at the same time making sure that you don’t allow your child to ruin your chances at happiness by being unreasonably demanding. You will also need to act very responsibly at this time and be careful with the person you bring home; get to know a little about their character and values before you bring them home to meet your kids, because the safety and well – being of your children is of prime importance. You want to find someone who is kind, balanced and who likes children so that you don’t have to be constantly pressurizing your children to like and be nice to your new friend. You also do not want your child to grow accustomed to your new friend and possibly form a bond if it may not last.
Embrace Support Systems
If you are not yet ready for a new relationship but long to get out a bit, don’t ignore single parent organizations where you can meet others in a similar situation and build up a community of friends. These organizations or support groups often have monthly social events for parents and kids or sometimes just for single parents. These get-togethers are a fantastic way to socialize without any pressure, and also may be a way for you to gain some outside perspective from others tackling the same challenge as you.
Various programs and workshops may deal in subjects that you as a single parent are battling with. Things like healthy eating, coping with anger, discipline, first aid in the home and how to restore confidence in yourself and your child can help you leave the armed with useful information and some new and caring friends.