Parenting is often described as the most challenging and rewarding experiences of a person’s life. Parents and non-parents are bombarded with opinions on how to raise children, yet so many parents end up feeling alone and isolated, striving for perfection.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and sadly we could pack 10 football stadiums each year with the number of children that are victims of maltreatment. We know that a family history of abuse, mental illness and substance abuse play a significant role in these cases. There are also some simple, straightforward things we can do to navigate the bumpy road of parenting and promote positive parenting. Check out our April calendar for daily suggestions for incorporating positive parenting into your own life.

Calendar 2016Here are five simple things you can do today to become a more positive, effective and happy parent with safe, healthy and happy kids.

Take care of yourself so you can care for your children.

Parenting can be overwhelming and exhausting. If parents prioritize their own well-being, they will face the challenges of parenting more effectively and calmly. That could mean taking time to exercise or meditate. In fact, there are excellent meditation apps available for download. Other ways to make time for yourself include spending time with a good friend, going out on a date, making sure to get enough sleep, or seeking help if you are overwhelmed. By taking care of yourself, you are better able to manage your own frustrations and anxieties and help your children do the same.

Spend quality time with your child.

Spend at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with your child every day where you follow their lead. This can be challenging for working parents, but try setting down your phone, turning off the TV, and meeting your child where they are. This special time shows your child they are important and gives you a chance to really see what your child is interested in, what they care about, and what they are thinking about.

Learn something new about child development or parenting strategies.

There is no “right” way to parent, but understanding why your kids do the things they do and having a set of strategies to choose from can help you feel more successful as a parent. Just remember that consistency and follow through are important regardless of the strategy you choose.

Build a community of support to keep kids healthy and safe.

The reality that it takes a village to raise a child rings true, but many parents feel like they are in it alone, struggling to balance the responsibilities of work and life with raising children. Do your best to connect with other families and make sure your child has adults in their life that make them feel safe and secure. Some parents seek support from family and friends, while others look to faith-based or other parent support groups. Regardless of where you go to connect, be sure you have other parents to discuss the joys and challenges you’re facing and that your child feels a part of a larger community.

Stop comparing and trust that you’re doing what’s best for your family.

Parents welcome babies to the world full of hope for their child, but that hope can become weighted with the pressure to be a “perfect” parent. There is a saying that having an opinion about parenting is the easiest thing in the world to do, but actually parenting is the hardest thing in the world to do. In a world full of opinions, the most important thing is to be forgiving, try your best, and trust that you know your child and family best. Confident, knowledgeable parents are less likely to get frustrated or angry, which means their children are safer and better supported.

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