Some of the most often unsolicited pieces of advice people give relate to parenting. Most people giving this advice, especially the most confident ones, are not parents. Well, I would not want to give my last opportunity to give advice to parents, before I become a parent myself (which would obviously taint my pristine theories with messy facts).
- Be kind to your child. There’s no use in being harsh to “make them tougher” (research shows little effect on the benefits you would expect from being tougher).
- Be kind to yourself. There’s no use in hurting one’s self for the kids — nobody appreciates it, least of all the kids.
- Children, like adults, respond to incentives. Give incentives for behaviors you want (asking politely, being nice) and do not give incentives for behaviors you don’t want (crying, making a scene).
- In particular, instead of allowance, considering paying the kids for chores. Chores get done, everyone is happier. Nagging takes to work not as well, violating both first principles.
- Instead of buying things for the kids, as soon as they’re old enough to understand the basics, give them money. Make sure to make it clear that they can spend it wisely or foolishly, though not on things they shouldn’t if other rules are at play, but they will not get more if they spend it foolishly. Allow them to use you as a money storage.
- Money the kids get from gifts is money for the kids. Same rules as money for chores and, if relevant, allowance, applies.
- Consider staycations with day-trips instead of vacations, especially if you live in a place with interesting day-trip options. Less expensive and less aggravating for everyone.
- Do not try to give kids “eductional” experiences that they won’t enjoy. They won’t learn anything from it, either. (Science says).
- In particular, forced (or “strongly encouraged”) sign-ups for after-school classes is a bad idea.
Please comment on this post with more advice! ESPECIALLY if you are not a parent (and therefore, obviously, an expert).