By Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
There are a lot of fairly sophisticated parenting techniques and
ideas out there that are attracting attention. To be an effective
father, you can skip most of them and concentrate on common sense
rules that have always worked. They won't always make you the most
popular Dad, but they'll always be effective:
Rule #1 Expect A Great Deal From Your Kids
If your kids know that you expect a lot from them, they'll rise to
the occasion. Everything from saying please and thank-you, to efforts
in school or on the athletic field, if expectations are made clear in
a loving atmosphere your kids will know that you think a lot of them.
When they know this, they'll respond.
Rule #2 Always Be Willing To Be the Problem
When you're convinced that someone in your family is causing the
problems and you're blaming them for it, realize that this problem
won't get better until you accept that you're making it worse by
blaming them. It may briefly feel good to blame, but it never
improves anything. Loving and accepting that person will make a
Rule #3 Know Your Child's Life Intimately
Get to know all that you can about your kids. Know what their
favorite toys and colors are, who their best friends are, who their
heroes are, etc. By showing interest, you're showing you love them.
By not asking, you show that they're not that important to you.
Rule #4 Say No To Your Kids
There's an awful lot of stuff out there for kids these days...and of
course they want to have it all. Kids who get almost everything they
want typically don't turn out to be very happy kids. Kids learn
discipline, self-control, and how to delay gratification when they
are told no by their parents. It may be a difficult struggle, but
saying no and meaning it will help you to have happy, healthy, and
Rule #5 Hitting or Spanking Your Kids Doesn't Work
There are plenty of studies showing that kids who are spanked have
lower self-esteem. Spanking your kids will also be likely to increase
the very kinds of behaviors that you are spanking them for. As a
father, do you really want your child to be afraid of you?
Rule #6 Treat Your Wife Extremely Well
This is where your kids get their most important information about
relationships between men and women. Make a great effort not to fight
in front of the kids. Remember to be kind more often than trying to
Rule #7 Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Many parents spend time threatening their children when their kids
aren't cooperating. But if you don't follow through on the
consequences, you can threaten till the cows come home. Your children
will learn to ignore the threats. They'll understand action. If
certain privileges are taken away because of their lack of
cooperation, they'll learn very quickly that you mean business. Try
your best to align the consequences with the action. ( If you don't
clean your room in time, you won't have time for stories before bed.)
Rule #8 Really Listen to Your Kids
Don't just hear their words, but learn to understand the meaning
behind what they say as well. I'm picking my own clothes! might mean
that your child wants more responsibility or independence. Be able to
reflect back what your child says to you. If you want your child to
listen to you, you absolutely must listen to her/him.
Rule #9 Give Your Kids Responsibility as They Grow Older
When your kids are very young, maybe they just help make their beds
in the morning and keep their rooms clean. As they get older, add
things to their list. Tell them that this is how a family
works…everybody has certain things that they do. If you do it when
they're young it's more likely they'll do it when they're older.
Don't reward them for things that should be expected of them.
Rule #10 Tell Your Kids They're Great All the Time
It is especially important to tell them this when they're not at
their best. It's easy to tell them when things are going well. Make it
a point to tell them specifically what you think is great about them.
This will be more meaningful than generalized praise.