Hand holding a vacuum tube but the girl refusing housework.

Children can be defiant and unruly in one breath and loving or compassionate in another. Parenting is hard, but one of the most rewarding things you can ever do in your life. The choice to have a child is purely based on biology and the act of mating, but in order to be a true parent, and make an impact on the child’s life, that takes determination, commitment, and ultimately, love. Here are some tips on how to have a positive impact on your child’s life.

Let Them Be Little

Childhood is fleeting. We have all heard it, but not all realize the importance childhood brings. On average, a child gets 14 years to feel like a child. After that, they begin contemplating the rest of their lives and are encouraged to find out what they want to do as a career. Childhood is such a small portion of our lives, but one of supreme importance. Childhood is where we find out our likes, dislikes, make friendships, and basically learn the basics of living.

Children are not going to make informed decisions. They need to learn, and part of the learning process is allowing it to happen. Let them be little and let them learn on their own. If you see your child having a disagreement with a friend, do not immediately step in and start taking sides. Give them the ability to work it out on their own. They may need help and you will know when to step in, but kids are remarkably adaptive at working out problems between themselves if they are allowed to do so.

Remember Being a Kid

For some of us, childhood is very far back in the past, but we all have memories of being little. Your children need to be allowed to be children just like you were. Children see things far different than adults and they need to be allowed to express themselves in the way they can understand. Take some time and evaluate how you speak to your children. Try putting yourself in their shoes and remember how you might have felt if your parents talked to you the way you are speaking to yours. A great tactic is to kneel down and get on the child’s level when speaking to them. They will listen better when they feel respected and can look you in the eye.

Do Not Emphasize Possessions

Possessions mean little to some children while others seem to thrive on always getting more and more toys. The primary reason for this is largely due to how their parents perceive possessions. Do you value time over getting the latest new device? Are you always searching for the next new thing to buy? Are you content with what you have? If we are chasing possessions and having more, our children will follow suit. Time with family is far more valuable than new toys for children and adults.

Maintain a Routine

Routines can be mundane and boring, but for children, they are essential. As adults, we can choose when we go to bed, when we eat, and have routine that works for us. Children must be trained in this area and having an anything goes approach to a child’s schedule can have negative consequences.

Having a standardized bedtime for children is not always a popular idea with parents these days. With more parents embracing the free form lifestyle of parenting in which the children make up their own rules is doomed to failure.

Children need guidance and the parent is supposed to provide it. Giving children a bedtime and setting time aside for meals gives children a sense of normalcy. It allows their bodies to know when to get tired and when to get hungry. It will take time to get adjusted to a bedtime and mealtime routine, but once it is established, you will be thankful.

Chores Are Great

Like the bedtime routine, chores and children can fall under scrutiny. A child does not need to be in charge of cleaning the entire home but picking up their toys and handling small messes they make is an excellent way to give them a sense of responsibility. Age appropriate chores such as allowing the 10-year-old to empty and reload the dishwasher, sweep, mop, or learn to wash dishes by hand is perfect. As they get older, allow the child to prepare a meal each week. You are not merely getting help around the home, you are building practical skills they will use all their life.

Your children will only be little for a time, so make that time special. Parents are the biggest influences in their children’s lives and unlike other things we own, they do not come with a printed manual. You can make a positive impact on your child with these essential parenting tools.