9 Rules to be a Better Parent to Your Children

how to be a better parent

As a parent, you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that all of your children’s needs are met and to instil good habits, values and behaviour in them. But we all know that this is easier said than done, especially on days when our children seem to be doing all that they can to test our patience. As a result, we might do or say things that would lead to problematic behaviours in our children.

So, what can you do to stay on the path of good parenting and help your child learn and grow in the best possible ways?

Here, we list down some simple rules to abide in order to be a better parent to your children, courtesy of top parenting and psychology experts:

1. Avoid comparisons and labels

For families with multiple children, there is a tendency to compare one child to the other, which can lead to labels. For example, you might refer to your studious child as “the scholar” and his/her energetic sibling as “the wild one”.

The problem with labelling children based on their personalities and abilities is that it creates problems and often strains the relationship among siblings. When one sibling feels that his/her brother “owns” the athlete label, he/she will most probably not try to excel in the same arena due to the fear of falling short. On the other hand, giving your child the picky eater label may very well encourage that very behaviour that you hope to put an end to.

Dr Harvey Karp, a renowned American paediatrician and author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, advises parents to be mindful of their choice of words when acknowledging their children’s unique traits. For example, try “energetic” instead of “wild”, “spirited” instead of “hyper” and “careful” instead of “shy”.

2. Walk the talk

Studies have shown that very young children learn from observing their parents’ every move, which proves that parental behaviour is far more powerful than words.

In her book, The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behaviour without Whining, Tantrums & Tears, Elizabeth Pantley says that parents are teaching their children something every minute of the day, whether they intend to pass along that lesson or not. “From how you handle stress to how you celebrate success to how you greet a neighbour, [your child] is observing you and finding out how to respond in various situations,” she shares.

With this revelation, do make a conscious effort to think through your actions first to avoid reacting on the spur of the moment. In a WebMD article, Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., author of The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting, suggests that you overcome this by asking yourself, ‘What do I want to accomplish, and is this likely to produce that result?’

3. Allow your child to learn from their mistakes

When your child builds a block tower and is about to place a piece on top that will send the structure crashing, do you allow him/her to carry on and deal with a meltdown later or stop him/her from adding the block with an explanation of the outcome?

Dr Christopher Lucas, an associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, says that while it is natural for parents to protect their children from incidents that could cause harm, it is beneficial for children to learn from their errors as it instils the lesson at hand better than an explanation ever could.

“At a very basic level, this kind of mistake helps a child understand cause and effect. But it’s also more emotionally healthy to let your child experience disappointment sometimes – especially in the form of a toppled block tower – instead of shielding him from any and all negative events,” Dr Lucas adds.

4. Be involved in your child’s life

According to Steinberg, being an involved parent takes time and effort, and it often requires one to rethink and rearrange their priorities. “It frequently means sacrificing what you want to do for what your child needs to do. Be there mentally as well as physically,” adds Steinberg.

5. Establish rules

One of the most crucial parts of parenting involves drawing up rules which will serve as a guideline for your child on what constitutes acceptable behaviour. At any time of the day or night, you should be able to answer these three questions:

  • Where is my child?
  • Who is with my child?
  • What is my child doing?

“If you don’t manage your child’s behaviour when he is young, he will have a hard time learning how to manage himself when he is older and you aren’t around,” Steinberg adds. The rules your child learns from you will shape the principles he/she applies to himself/herself and determine the type of person that he/she will grow up to become in the future.

At the same time, Steinberg warns against micromanaging your child during the teen years. In order to help your child develop resilience to deal with the challenges of life, we need to “let the child do their own homework, make their own choices and not intervene”.



Encouraging your child to be independent and being consistent with your actions are some things you can do to be a better parent. More details on the next page…

What Not to Do When Raising Bilingual Children: 8 Common Mistakes

mistakes parents make when raising bilingual children

Many parents today recognise the importance of getting their children to speak, read and write effectively in more than one language. Apart from the numerous benefits that bilingualism brings, being proficient in two or more languages brings great advantages when it comes to study and career opportunities.

If you have made the choice to expose your child to two languages at home, it is important to get ahead with helpful tips to introduce multiple languages properly to your children. However, it is also worthwhile to take note of some common mistakes that parents make in their attempt to raise children who are effectively bilingual.

As shared by Bilingual Kidspot, here’s a list of errors commonly made by parents when raising bilingual children:

1. You think that your child will automatically become bilingual

One of the top common mistakes parents make when raising bilingual children is assuming that just because they speak a language, it is only natural that this will be passed on to their child. What they fail to realise is that the development of their children’s ability to speak and understand a language takes a lot of effort and patience. When parents take this for granted, their children can end up being a passive bilingual, whereby they understand what one is saying but are unable to reply using the language.

So, do set aside some time each day to talk, read and do activities with your child in more than one language. Work together with them to ensure that they can speak and understand the languages used at home well.

2. TV alone will not teach your child a language

While some exposure to TV programmes in a particular language can help to complement the activities that you do with your child, do remember that human interaction is the only way for one to truly master a language. Simply putting your children in front of the TV will not help them speak and understand the language, as they need someone to practice with and to guide them along the way.

3. Relying on expensive toys and materials

Before you go overboard and invest in the latest toys and materials that promise to help your child learn a language better and faster, do bear in mind that expensive materials do not guarantee that your child will be able to learn a language effectively. The best way for your child to learn a language is through interacting and conversing with people who are fluent speakers of that language.

However, if you are looking for supplementary materials to make the learning process more fun and interesting, there are simple materials that you can prepare and use at minimal cost to encourage your child to converse with you in that language.

4. Correcting your child too often

While it is essential to point it out when your child makes mistakes when learning a language, do try not to do this too often as it disrupts the flow of talking and discourages him/her from persevering with the learning. Although it is important to correct major mistakes, do try to let the little ones go – in time, they will learn to get a hang of it and understand the rules of the language.


It is never too late to teach your child new skills and languages! Find out what other mistakes parents make when raising bilingual children on the next page.