One of the most challenging jobs a parent faces is raising a happy and healthy child. It is also the most significant reward a parent can win.
Yet many parents neglect proper parenting and would never take it seriously as much as they take running off to the office and handling paper works.
They merely depend on their instincts to raise children or, worse still, adopt the parenting style their parents used, whether they are effective or not.
Even if they were effective on you and your siblings, that doesn’t mean they would be effective on your child.
What is parenting?
Parenting is an act of bringing up children and endowing them with love, care, and protection to ensure that their development into adulthood is healthy.
The objectives of parenting are to ensure that children are safe and healthy. It also helps to get children ready to fit in as productive adults and to transfer cultural valves.
Parenting style is the combination of approaches that you use to train your children. Although different parents have different methods of parenting, fears, and concerns are typically similar.
These similarities propelled the classification of parenting style into groups with distinct names and features. There is, however, no clear cut line between these groups of parenting, and most times, these styles are in a continuum, with one occasionally flowing into another.
This is to say that most parents switch parenting styles from time to time when it is necessary. For instance, a permissive parent might decide to become strict to teach a kid a lesson. It is essential not to go overboard if you are adopting the strict method of raising your kids.
Forms of parenting styles
Parents practicing this type of parenting style are regarded as disciplinarians. Punishment is common in this type of parenting. Their discipline style is strict, with rules being made without proper negotiation and considerations.
Uninvolved or permissive parenting
In this method of parenting, children are allowed to do whatever they want to do. Parents do not take part in activities that concern the child sometimes as a result of ignorance or lack of interest in a child’s well-being.
Other times it is a deliberate measure employed by parents not to interfere in the affairs of their kids. An uninvolved parent does not discipline children, offer very little affection, and do not interact with children to understand their needs and fears.
Very little or nothing is expected of children from such homes.
Democratic parents are rational in making decisions and in implementing them. Although they set high standards and expectations, laws are stated clearly, and the reason why such laws are made is explained.
Children are given directions and advice and then are allowed to make their own decisions preparing them to become productive members of society. This style of parenting is the most beneficial, and it enables children to grow into a self-disciplined individual who is capable of independent thinking.
Apart from the outlined parenting styles, other factors that affect the development of a child includes the child’s temperament and how it fits with the parents, peer group influence, and the teacher’s method of working with the children.
Principles of good parenting
What you do matters
As you go about your regular daily routine, your children learn from the things you do. It is an apparent reference to the “monkey see; monkey do” analogy. Even the tiniest bit of detail matters, from your health behavior to the way you accommodate and treat others with respect.
It is critical that as a parent, you are always conscious of all your actions and don’t just react on impulse, especially when you have your children around. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of every intended action and make sure they are in line with what you want to accomplish.
You cannot be too loving
People make the mistake of thinking that excess love spoils a child. If there is anything love does, it is ensuring proper growth and development of a child. A child who is loved is always happy, and such a child grows into an active, happy adult who is in control of his or her emotions.
A child that is showered with love would grow up to show and receive love. According to Steinberg, “It is simply not possible to spoil a child with love.” What actually spoils a child is the act of always giving your child what they want in place of love —things like lowered expectations, material possessions, and leniency.
Be involved in your child’s life
Being involved in the life of your child means making your child part of your priority at all times. Children need your presence and attention, both physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
It takes time, dedication, and hard work to be an involved parent, and this means being able to reprogram and reschedule to meet your child’s needs, which could be impromptu sometimes.
Adapt your parenting to fit your child
Although kids possess many similar characteristics, each child is unique and has a distinctive difference. This is why it is critical for parents to adopt a parenting style that works well for them and their kids.
Also, a child’s behavior varies with age, and you might want to consider changing parenting styles as your child moves from one stage to another. The same inspiration for autonomy that is making your 3-year-old kid say ‘no’ all the time is the same thing that drives him to be toilet trained.
As parents, we should be careful about what we shun or ignore.
Establish and set rules
It will be difficult for your child to manage himself well when he is grown if you weren’t able to manage his behavior when he was younger. He wouldn’t be able to make decisions or take any actions without you there.
As early as possible, set rules and regulations that would serve as a guide to your child. Even when you are not there, consciously or unconsciously, the rules your child has learned would help determine the rules he applies to himself.
Remember that rules aren’t something you impose on children; it’s something you inculcate in then. If you impose rules on children, they might grow into a child who does everything that he is asked to do even without knowing the significance of what he is doing, and nobody wants such a child.
Foster your child’s independence
A man once said that parenting is all about making your child believe that they can do anything in the world and occasionally shouting, “no you can’t do that.” Help your child develop a sense of self-restraint by fixing the bar and setting limits.
Encourage independence because it helps him build a sense of self-direction. An individual is going to need both of these to be successful in life.
It is natural for a child to push for independence, and this should not be misinterpreted as obstinacy or stubbornness. A child pushes for self-reliance because naturally, everyone likes to feel in control and not controlled.
When you set rules, make sure they are consistent with previous rules. If there is a need for a change, endeavor to explain to the child adequately. If you are unpredictable with your rules and actions, you leave the child confused, and this child is bound to misbehave.
When a child misbehaves, it is not their fault but yours for making him unsure of what you want. Consistency is a parent’s best disciplinary tool. A child is less likely to challenge your authority if it is based on wisdom and not on power.
Avoid harsh discipline
Spanking children isn’t the best form of discipline; in fact, it is actually the worst. Studies have shown that children who are being spanked for doing wrong are more likely to engage in fights with other children.
They are also more likely to be bullies and solve disputes by being aggressive. Do not hit, slap, or spank your child under any circumstances.
No matter how wrongly the child has behaved, there are lots of other forms of punishment the child can be subjected to other than spanking, and the message can still be passed.
You could take away privileges, for instance, no video games for the next week, no more extra chocolates after meals or no more TV time.
Explain your rules and decisions
As a parent, you always have certain expectations you want your kids to maintain. No matter how sincere your intentions are, kids might not understand why you make such stupid rules even though they are all so apparent to you.
It is, therefore, essential that you carefully and sufficiently explain every rule you make to them so that they don’t just obey; they also understand the reason why they have to obey.
Note that it is not the same explanation you give your five-year-old that you will give an adolescent.
Treat your child with respect
Yes, children need to be respected too; that way, they would even respect you more. Be courteous with your child just like you would with anyone else. Speak to him politely and not shun his opinion when he talks.
Parents should learn to listen properly when their child is talking to them and let them know at every opportunity that he is loved. A child who experiences love and respect grows up to be emotionally stable.
Having learned love and respect, they wouldn’t find it difficult to love and respect others.
Don’t shun them in front of strangers
It is important that parents do their best not to embarrass their kids in public. You can wait till you get home or a more private place to express your anger, and letting your child know how you feel about their insensitive actions.
However, you might be doing more harm than good when you scold them in front of strangers. This can go a long way in affecting their self-esteem.
Parenting during mealtime
In many homes, especially for young parents, mealtimes are battle times, and the dining table is the battlefield.
Most children never seem to want to eat no matter how long it has been since their last meal or how delicious the meal looks.
This has remained a tough challenge for parents who are caught in between trying to convince the kids that eating is not such a bad idea and trying not to hurt them or make them cry.
Below are some suggestions that could make mealtime less dreadful:
- Share your story during mealtime: You can talk about your day’s experience during dinner. It would make kids last longer on the table because being kids; they would always want to talk about exciting parts of their day.
- Avoid power struggle during mealtime: Don’t give your kid the impression that because you are the parent, you have power over them and can make them do whatever you want.
- Keep your kids engaged: You can make eating more interesting by letting the kids participate in the cooking. Allow them to do minor jobs in the kitchen. You can tell them to help you pass the salt or unfold seasonings.
- Don’t label them bad eaters or picky eaters: It is very common for kids to have food preferences and that is not such a horrible thing. Parenting involves identifying those sets of meals your child enjoys eating and letting them eat it. Good thing food preferences normally pass with age.
- Do not expose kids to new varieties every time: The way a child derives comfort from hearing the same bedtime story over and over again is the same way they are more comfortable eating foods they are familiar with. It is OK to introduce your child to a new meal once in a while but do not overdo it.
- Avoid bribing kids with sweets and junk to make them eat: This gesture sends a wrong message that one should get rewarded for doing the wrong thing and that eating junk is an excellent way to reward yourself. Parents should make sure not to encourage junks and sweets in their kids.
- Encourage kids to drink water instead of juice when they are thirsty: Drinking juice in place of water is a bad habit that a child can develop over time. If the child proves stubborn, you can play a simple trick of coloring the water by adding a little quantity of their favorite juice.
Parenting during physical fitness time
Regular exercise is an essential part of a child’s development program. Children need at least one hour of exercise every day to maintain healthy growth. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry is bent on providing sedentary entertainment, and children seem to always prefer this to outdoor activities.
Below are some suggestions that would help increase and improve family fitness time.
- Limit your children’s screen time: Make sure they are spending less time in front of TVs, computers, video games and mobile phones.
- Make an exercise schedule: If a specific time is set aside for physical activities, it would be easier for you and the kids to get up and going each day.
- Support physical fitness exercises in school: Physical fitness activities in school help students to reduce stress and relax. It also provides an opportunity for socialization in the school environment.
- Engage in outdoor activities: Make plans to spend day-offs, weekends, and vacations around places where you can have fun and engage in physical fitness activities at the same time. Such activities like riding bikes, playing volleyball on the beach, and taking a hike.
- Make use of local resources available in your community: If there is a park in your community, visit it often and sign up for available teams you have interest in. This can serve as an interesting engagement your child would enjoy.
- Socialize: To make exercise time even more exciting and worthwhile, invite the neighbors and organize group activities that everyone would participate in. Sometimes competitions should be organized to encourage and support each other. Playtime is always fun for both adults and kids.
- Get the kids involved: Make sure the children are being exposed to a variety of exercises so they can choose the ones they enjoy the most. This way, they wouldn’t get bored during physical fitness time.
- Let them take the lead once in a while: Kids like being in charge, so let them take turns in coordinating the family fitness exercise. It would be a thing of excitement that they are being made director, and they would certainly have fun watching the whole family work at their pace.
Uncomfortable things kids can be allowed to do
Tearing and staining clothing
The best way for a child to get an understanding of the outside world is to go out and explore it. Being a kid is fascinating; they find everything exciting and are always curious about everything. This curiosity makes them throw all caution away as they discover their world.
At these moments, it is not jolting that kids forget about the clothes they are wearing, how neat it is, or how much they cost. They get it all stained and might even tear it while they play. Kids should be allowed to soil clothes as much as they want while they play.
However, if you are concerned about how expensive it is for you to keep replacing clothes every time, you could split their wardrobe into two so that they have a specific set of clothes they can wear to play. This way, they wouldn’t ruin that very pretty dress that cost you so much to buy.
Eating junk food
Most kids will always prefer junk food to a proper healthy meal. They would always prefer sweets to fruits, and they would always prefer chocolates to veggies.
It doesn’t just end with devouring these junks; they also leave their clothes and hands soiled with the sticky mess from sweets and greasy doughnuts, after which they will go and touch everything around them making everywhere sticky and messy.
These shouldn’t be enough reason to ban kids from eating junk because it becomes a haram in the child’s mind. Parents are encouraged to occasionally buy these foods for the kids so that they know that it’s possible to have a pack of chips on the shelf without having to eat the whole pack at once.
The kids will equally realize that they do not need to hide a pack of secretly eaten sweet from their parents.
Spending personal money on things they don’t need:
As pointed out earlier, children like to feel a sense of independence and worth. Sometimes they should be left to make decisions on their own no matter how stupid you think such decisions might be.
Children might decide to spend money on toys, clothes, food, transportation fare, and even outing with friends.
Most times, parents consider their expenses as silly and unnecessary because most times, they don’t need the things they buy. So they try to limit the child from making unnecessary expenses by imposing bans.
This approach should not be encouraged in parenting because when you give a child money, it has become their property, and they should be allowed to decide what to spend the money on, especially when the child had to work for the money.
This way, they will learn to manage money and differentiate between what they need and mere desires.
In modern times children have been found to become more preoccupied, anxious, and depressed compared to generations past. The reasons somehow settle in the fact that children are always in a competition to gain specific knowledge.
School programs are becoming more and more tedious and are always keeping kids busy with either doing this or doing that. Social media, which has become quite popular, isn’t such a helping matter as it often makes kids feel they are not good enough or they are not doing enough.
That is why kids have the need to do nothing from time to time. If they demand a break, let them have one. If a child has a free period out of a day’s routine, do not be in a hurry to fill it with something new.
Allow them some moments of carelessness and freedom. This is very important for their mental health.
Good academic performance is a good thing, but it is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the all-round development of a school kid, which includes mental as well as psychological health.
Pilling kids with school work doesn’t help achieve that, so it is important to let kids have some break if they ask for it or artificially create free time for them, especially if you notice that they are tensed, stressed, or depressed.
Give kids the time and the opportunity to slow down and reflect on what they want, what they like to do, what their dreams are because most times it is impossible to find time and strength to seek answers to such easy questions in the chaos of all the tasks both parents and children have.
Arguing with adults
It is essential to make your younger kids understand that not all adults are good, and they don’t need to run all their errands or attend to every one of their needs right away. As for the older kids, it is a matter of ethics.
Fortunately or unfortunately, wisdom and knowledge are becoming less and less dependent on age. An older person might be wrong about something or behave unacceptably, and it is crucial that you learn to stand your ground and defend your right even as a child.
Parents teach children to do away with insults, tantrums, and arguments even though they can’t do it themselves. They often wrongly assume that a child is impolite when he argues with an adult.
In actual sense, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a child trying to defend his opinion by pointing out to an adult where they are wrong.
If you think you have lost control over your teenage daughter just because you are arguing with her, remember the argument is a battle you are both involved in. You can show your daughter a positive example by turning the argument into a search for compromise.
When you take the kids shopping, and they begin to pick clothes, do not start wringing your mouth and rolling your eyes in disapproval. Many parents don’t particularly enjoy shopping time with the kids.
And it’s not just because of the price tags, the vast range of choices, and the constant arguments, but also because they don’t agree with the choices the kids make.
You don’t understand why they would instead pick that acid-washed hoodie, and those ripped jeans and even more ridiculously why that mummy Jean that look so so faded still have a price tag on it.
The psychologist advises that parents should learn to keep calm and let the kids have their way. After all, it’s them who are going to wear it and also it is better to let your kids chose their clothes.
This is because it helps the kid to shape up their personal “self,” work on their individuality and locate their space in the society. What’s more, they will wear them every morning with excitement without complaints and without making cranky faces.
Most times, parenting is all about seeing the best in your kids, no matter how wrong they are. Many would argue that it is terrible to have a disobedient child who doesn’t listen to instructions or take directions. Parents would always worry about this and suffer endless headaches as a result.
But have you ever considered the fact that a child who follows all directions and heeds to all instructions will grow into an adult who doesn’t have any sense of will, and has no chance of defending their interests?
Such a child would always be taken advantage of. As bad as being disobedient might be, it wouldn’t be so wrong to admit that it has its benefits. Such a kid wouldn’t find it very difficult to stand for his rights and defend his interest.
This kind of child would be willing to shut values and actions that are not in harmony with his. Kids like this would grow into adults who are ready to act rather than whisper, “you can’t do that.”
Playing video games
Education doesn’t just begin and end within the four walls of the school compound, education could take place anywhere, with anything and in any given opportunity.
Parenting involves identifying those opportunities and letting your kids explore them. Allowing your kids to play video games has a more positive impact on a child’s brain than watching TV.
Video games teach children to respond quickly and utilize every of their sense organ. However, it is essential not to let them go over-board with the time they spend tapping gamepads.
Parenting always looks like an easy job to those who aren’t yet parents, but once they begin to have kids, they realize that parenting is much more than just giving birth to a baby and watching them grow.
It involves showing love and affection, providing for both their physical, mental, social, and emotional needs. It also involves protecting them from harm that could affect them mentally, physically, socially, academically, and many more.
For kids to grow into healthy and productive members of society, parents should endeavor to maintain an adequate parenting style.
Are you a parent? How would you describe your experience raising your kids? Are there tips you would like to share with us on how best to be a good parent? Kindly do so in the comments below.