How Do You Define Parenting?
“When you parent, it’s crucial you realize you aren’t raising a “mini me,” but a spirit throbbing with its own signature.”
– Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of “The Conscious Parent”
Parenting or child-rearing refers to the process of raising and guiding your child to become a self-actualized individual. Parents are the most influential presence in a child’s life, so approaching parenting with intention and mindfulness can empower the entire family for generations.
Aside from the traditional family relationships with a mother and father, other caregivers like grandparents can also function as parents. There are also households with single-parent families.
What’s A Parent’s Role?
The everyday moments with your child are a learning experience for them. Parents play an important role in their child’s development and growth.
Knowing and understanding your child’s major developmental milestones can help you better understand your child’s needs.
Help Your Child Find Their Inspiration
As good parents, our role is to encourage our children to discover what most inspires them and support them in achieving goals that are aligned with this. There’ll be many voices that your child will hear as they grow, but your voice will be the most important and critical one.
Empower Your Child To Reach Their Full Potential
As parents, you can support and empower your child with the right skills to achieve their goals. The best way to teach our kids is to model desired behaviors ourselves. You can start by embodying traits like self-control, kindness, empathy, self-compassion, independence, self-direction, and resilience.
What’s The Importance Of Parenting?
Parenting affects the overall child’s wellness: (1)
- Promotes confidence and self-esteem
- Prepares your kids to become empowered,self-actualized, and productive adults.
- Ensures your children’s health and safety.
- Teaches your children values such as justice, equality, independence, integrity, and more
- Teaches your children social and interpersonal skills
Secure Vs. Insecure Attachment
According to studies, your sense of attachment as a baby and young child significantly impacts your well-being and how you handle relationships and intimacy as an adult. (2)
Attachment refers to the special bond or emotional connection you built with your primary caregivers as a baby. It involves an exchange of love, comfort, and care.
A baby who grows up well-loved and taken care of will develop a secure attachment. Parents of babies with secure attachment play and bond more with their children. (2)
Breastfeeding is one factor associated with attachment between mothers and their babies, but it’s not necessary to achieve a secure bond. You can still experience a secure connection with your child, even if you don’t breastfeed. (3)
In a secure attachment, babies will become confident, trustworthy adults who can manage conflicts effectively. They can respond to intimacy and can handle a healthy relationship. (2)
Meanwhile, babies who experience frightening or confusing moments with their parents or main caretaker will likely develop an insecure attachment. (2)
Babies who weren’t given enough attention and comfort can grow to become distant and detached adults. They have difficulty handling their emotions and may experience anxiety. They also tend to be unable to manage stable relationships. (2)
What Are The 4 Types Of Parenting Styles?
These are the four parenting strategies or styles commonly used in psychology today. (4)
- Authoritarian – The parents are clearly in charge, and the child is expected to obey.
- Authoritative – The parents are nurturing and supportive while also setting clear limits.
- Permissive – The parents are warm and supportive but are lax in demands and discipline.
- Neglectful – The parents are unresponsive, uninvolved, and reject parenting responsibilities.
What’s The Most Recommended Parenting Type?
The authoritative or supportive parenting style is considered the most recommended in Western cultures. (5)
8 Parenting Tips To Help You Raise A Happy & Healthy Child
1. Be Loving & Affectionate
“Touch is one of the central experiences of an infant, whether rodent, primate, or human.
We readily think of stressors as consisting of various unpleasant things that can be done to an organism.
Sometimes a stressor can be the failure to provide something to an organism, and the absence of touch is seemingly one of the most marked of developmental stressors that we can suffer”
Robert Sapolsky, author of “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”
A parent’s love strongly influences how a child grows and develops into adulthood. Children learn to love, show respect, and kindness through a positive relationship with their parents. (6)
There are many studies that show how affection and love impact mental and physical development.
A 2019 study published in Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica showed that children who grew up with less affectionate parents struggled with depression and anxiety as adults. (7)
Simple ways to show love and affection:
- Show loving actions like hugs and kisses
- Show empathy by saying words like, “How sad” or “I understand.”
- Avoid blaming and fault-finding. Show that your love is unconditional.
- Be present with your child, put your phone down and turn off the TV.
- Learn your child’s love language.
2. Be Involved
Being involved in your child’s life can take many forms. It can be by being a role model, instilling good habits, consistent discipline, communication, and mindful social interactions.
Studies reveal that children whose parents are involved in their academics show better social skills and less behavioral problems. (8)
Children are also more motivated to learn and adopt their parent’s positive attitudes in school. (9)
Ways to be involved:
- Make an effort and take a genuine interest in your child’s hobbies and ideas.
- Get involved in school activities and other education programs.
- Remember the things that are important to your child and support them in those activities.
- Ask questions and be present to hear their answers.
- Go on nature walks with your child or do solo dates.
- Take up a hobby that both of you can do together.
3. Empower Yourself, Then Your Child
Empowering your child means helping them believe that their strengths, talents, and inspirations can help them reach their goals.
It’s about equipping your child with the tools to survive and thrive in any difficult situation.
Ways to empower your child:
- Encourage your child to make decisions.
- Teach your child that failing at something is actually a good thing because it means they tried for something.
- Be a role model by showing self-confidence and vulnerability.
- Trust and support your child when they’re facing challenges.
- Embody authenticity and encourage your child to do the same.
- Teach you kids that they can speak their mind with respect.
4. Motivate & Encourage Your Child
Motivation helps build your child’s character. When you encourage your child, they learn to keep trying in order to face challenges and adversities in life.
There are many ways to motivate your child, depending on their age and personality. When encouraging, one key factor is to praise your child’s efforts rather than the results. (10)
Ways to motivate your child:
- Provide opportunities for learning and interaction.
- Celebrate your child’s efforts, not just achievements.
- Encourage social interactions with adults and peers.
- Use rewards productively to help them keep trying.
5. Set Limits & Rules
Rules and limits are meant to teach children self-discipline and self-control. It’s meant to guide your child to make better, healthy life choices.
Parents who are consistent in their rules create predictability and help their children feel safe.
Ways to help set limits and rules: (11)
- Time-out can be effective for children ages three to 11.
- Work chores can be effective for teens ages 12-18.
- For serious consequences, you can try privilege removal.
6. Communicate Often
Children who communicate well and often with their parents are more likely to follow what they are told.
Good communication promotes positive parenting and helps your child understand what to expect from you. Your child will also feel safe within the family if they can freely express their feelings. (12)
Studies show that children with good communication with their parents are more confident and perform better in academics. (13)
Ways to effectively communicate with your child: (12)
- Understand how your child communicates. It can be through language, gestures, mood, or tone of voice.
- Avoid lecturing your child.
- Let your child know they’ve been heard.
- Try reflective listening with your kid.
- Work on your own communication skills.
7. Show Respect
Parents are the first and most important role models in their child’s life. If you want to teach your child to be respectful, you must also show them respect.
When your child knows what respect feels like, they are more likely to show it to others as well.
When you teach your child respect, focus on polite words and actions. Teaching your child empathy can make them more respectful towards the feelings of others. (14)
Ways to show respect to your child:
- Don’t yell at your child. Be mindful of how you talk to your child, especially in public.
- Be honest and admit if you made a mistake.
- When they show disrespect, discipline your child using age-appropriate consequences like a time-out.
- Actively listen and empathize when your child is telling you something.
- Validate your child’s experience or feelings rather than making them wrong for it.
8. Avoid Harsh Discipline
Some parents still think that an effective way to instill discipline is to create fear and physical punishment.
However, hitting, slapping, or humiliating are harsh forms of discipline that are not helpful to your child’s growth. In fact, these might be quite detrimental to their development. (15)
Effective and positive discipline aims to teach and guide children to do the right thing.
Research shows that young children who grew up with harsh discipline are more likely to struggle with mental health issues and show acts of violence as adults. (16)
Tips For Disciplining Your Child
Here are some tips recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) to discipline your child: (17)
- Clearly explain to your child the rules and limitations they need to follow. Be consistent in enforcing these rules.
- Use this as a warning to remind your child of a consequence when they misbehave. As a rule of thumb, one minute per year of age is enough for a time-out.
- Explain to your child the consequences of their actions in a calm manner.
- If they misbehave, remind them of the rules. Be firm and be prepared to take action.
- Don’t give in easily. It’s also not advisable to take away meals or other necessities.
Show & Tell
- Be a role model. Show and explain why misbehavior is wrong and what should be done instead.
Let Your Child Give Their Reason
- Calmly speak with your child and ask why they misbehaved. Sometimes, they know it’s wrong and simply forget.
- Listen and look for a pattern that might be the cause of misbehavior. For example, when they feel jealous or insecure.
Give Attention To Your Child
- Often, children misbehave because they want attention. Reinforce good behavior by paying attention to your child.
- Allow them to tell you what they want and why they want it.
Redirect Bad Behavior
- Another common cause of misbehavior is boredom. Redirect misbehavior or a tantrum by giving your child something to do.
Be Ready In Situations Where Your Child Will Most Likely Misbehave
- As you look for patterns of misbehavior, be prepared in situations where you think your child misbehaves.
- Talk it out with your child ahead of time. Remind them of the consequences and rules.
Catch Them Being Good
- Just as you’re quick in catching your child when they misbehave, also be fast in giving praise when they do something good.
How To Prevent Mealtime Fights With Your Children
Mealtimes can become a grueling time when a picky eater often rejects the food.
Here are some tips for calm and positive mealtimes, according to child feeding expert Ellyn Satter, MS, RDN, MSSW: (18)
Make It Better
If you have a picky eater, communicate how to make the food “better” for them. As a parent, help your children identify what they want.
The way you ask is important to avoid negativity and conflict. Instead of asking, “Why don’t you like it?” try rephrasing it to, “How can I make the food better for you?”
Avoid Forcing Your Child To Eat
This may seem difficult to accept, but you have to choose your battles wisely. Children often eat more when they don’t feel pressured to do so.
Be A Positive Role Model
Develop good, healthy eating habits for your child by showing them. Young children often adopt the moods and behaviors of adults. So, it’s best to teach by example.
Be Consistent In Having Meals As A Family
Make mealtimes a regular family event. Be firm and consistent in insisting that everyone in the family must gather together during eating time.
By setting a routine, your child gets to anticipate and prepare how mealtimes should be.
Avoid Power Struggles
Make mealtime a relaxed and positive atmosphere. Try to avoid distractions by having a no-gadget rule while at the table.
You can seek the help of a pediatrician on how to encourage healthier eating habits or when to know if your child has an eating disorder.
How To Encourage Family Fitness As A Way To Bond With Your Child
Studies show that active parents raise active children. You can encourage your child to spend time with you doing fitness activities. (19)
Here are some ways to help encourage your child:
- Choose toys or activities that your child enjoys
- Take regular nature walks as a family or just the two of you
- Establish a routine and schedule
- Take up a common exercise practice such as yoga
- Limit screen time
- Track your family’s progress
- Enjoy rewards together
Other Activities You Can Do Together
- Do outdoor chores together
- Participate in community activities