When you鈥檙e pregnant, you spend your time reading up on all sorts of parenting books (in between bites of whatever you鈥檙e craving that very second). But once baby arrives, finding the time to read even ONE聽parenting book is a Herculean effort. Plus, you鈥檙e super focused on the task at hand, whether it鈥檚 your little one鈥檚 very first wellness check up or you鈥檙e taking聽daycare center tours, so聽the idea of what to do when your child actually understands the words coming out of your mouth seems far fetched RN. Whether you鈥檙e a brand new mom聽or proudly look after聽a toddler, bite-sized parenting tips are the best. To help you navigate all of those parenting strategies, we chatted with author and parenting expert聽Erica Reischer about her book What Great Parents Do:聽75 Proven Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive and simplified it to the basics so you can get back to hanging out with the cutie pie(s) in your life!

Soft glowing sunny moment between a young african-american mother and her cute curly haired baby boy blowing colourful bubbles on the meadow.

1. It鈥檚 okay to make mistakes. There鈥檚 no such thing as a perfect parent. Really. You鈥檙e going to screw up, and it鈥檚 totally okay. Phew! As Erica puts it, 鈥淭rying to be one of those mythical creatures, aka the perfect parent, is going to give you feelings of frustration and inadequacy. Making mistakes can be a good thing when it gives us the opportunity to model for kids what to do when they鈥檝e made a mistake, and how to respond with integrity and responsibility,鈥 says Erica. Instead of berating yourself for 鈥渂eing a bad mom鈥 (you鈥檙e not), look at it as a way to let you know in what areas you might need more support or practice.

2. Avoid fights when your little one is hangry or sleepy. You know what you鈥檙e like when you鈥檙e starving and sleep deprived (basically Lord Voldemort), so you can鈥檛 expect your kid to be any better when they鈥檙e hungry or tired. If you鈥檙e trying to discipline your kids when they are hangry, you鈥檙e not going to get your message heard. Save the lesson for when they鈥檙e ready to listen.

3. Use the right kind of praise. 鈥淕reat job!鈥 and 鈥淵ou鈥檙e so smart鈥 come out of our mouths so often because we love our kids and want them to feel special and loved like the magical creatures they are, but research shows that these types of generic compliments聽actually can hinder your kid. 鈥淧ioneering psychologist Carol Dweck calls this a fixed mindset. Children who have a fixed mindset often become reluctant to take risks or try new activities, for fear of looking dumb or losing their status as special and talented,鈥 says Erica. Be more specific and praise the effort your child made to achieve something like a good grade.

4. Make a date聽for you. Sure, you鈥檇聽love a few hours聽off from parenting or even a spare hour to get your nails done, but you think it鈥檚 a waste of time. It鈥檚 not. Making time for you is a vital way to be a better parent. Don鈥檛 wait to find some much-needed me-time. Schedule it like you would a work meeting. 鈥淚f you鈥檙e worn out, your reserves of patience and energy are diminished. Being in a depleted state makes it much more difficult to respond calmly and skillfully to the daily challenges of raising children,鈥 says Erica. So, schedule a spa day, meditate, hang out with your BFFs or go for a walk alone 鈥 you deserve it.

mother reading a book

5.聽Tell kids what to do, instead of what not to do. The word 鈥渘o鈥 and 鈥渄on鈥檛鈥 are often the most used words in the parenting world because we want our kiddos to make good choices. But if we simply say 鈥淪top that,鈥 or 鈥淒on鈥檛 do that!鈥 we鈥檙e not telling our kids what they should do instead. 鈥淣ext time you find yourself telling your kids that their behavior is not okay, be sure to pair it with a discussion (for older kids) or instruction (for younger kids) of what would be a better alternative (and why),鈥 recommends Erica.

6. Handle whining with care. Kids are naturally curious, so they鈥檙e bound to test boundaries and see how far they can go. They鈥檙e simply figuring out the world and experimenting. 鈥淭he next time your toddler is whining for a toy or a special treat from the grocery store, see it聽as an experiment for your kid to see how to interact with you to get what they want. Then respond accordingly. If you don鈥檛 want to reinforce the whining, then don鈥檛 let the whining work,鈥 says Erica.

7. Practice empathy. If you鈥檙e expecting, one parenting聽skill that you聽can practice before your little one arrives is empathy. It鈥檚 a powerful and essential parenting skill. 鈥淓mpathy is the power to make someone else feel understood, and that feeling can defuse any number of otherwise unpleasant situations and power struggles 鈥 in any relationship,鈥 says Erica. No matter what age your kid is, empathy is a great tool to parent better.

What are your best parenting tips for raising awesome kiddos? Tweet us @BritandCo with your tips!

(Photos via Getty)