Being a parent is probably the most difficult and the most scary and yet the most important job we can do in our life. Positive parenting means creating a healthy environment and a happy home for children to grown. But to do that effectively, we have to first understand our child’s development and needs.
Those days two to three generations lived together and young parents could rely on the experience and wisdom of the older generation. Though parents intuitively know what is best for their child, it is however imperative that we take every opportunity to educate ourselves.
Most parents love their children. But do we know to effectively communicate our love to them?
If our actions do not help the child to grow to be a kind, caring, responsible adult and if we are not creating a family atmosphere where the child feels happy and loved, we have to reevaluate our parenting approach.
Good parenting creates happier homes.
This to me personally is the most important thing. Then children will grow up feeling secure and loved, have lower stress levels, better overall health and are likely to do better at school.
Most of us imitate the parenting style of our own parents while some rebel and do the opposite. However, it is a good idea to reevaluate our reasons for doing what we do. There are different types of parenting styles and a good parent is flexible and is able to pick and choose the best practices from each style.
Even though authoritarian parenting sets limits to keep children safe, it also makes them feel unimportant and that their opinions do not matter. This style could be used when we set rules for little children when it comes to crossing the road / hitting other children. Child has to obey the parent here. They may also resent and blame their parents for not being a responsible parent when they face troubles later in life.
Permissive parenting is something most Indians are not familiar with. Here the child’s happiness is first priority and he is given a free run and may choose to do what ever he feels like. On the flip side, not establishing boundaries make children feel insecure and surprisingly even uncared for. They may grow up to be selfish individuals who are concerned only about their happiness.
Contrary to common belief amongst us, good parenting does not mean helping the child settle down in a good career alone. Have a good career is important.
But it also means helping him / her grow up into a good human being with proper values. This is done by making fair and consistent rules and allowing him to experience natural consequences for his actions. It is those values that are going to help him form healthy relationships, find happiness in life and of course make decisions that will help his career too.
A child with a healthy dose of self esteem is a happy child. Self esteem does not come by blindly praising the child. This kind self esteem will come crashing down during tough situations.
A child with a healthy self esteem is
- has a sense of belonging and
- has a sense of self worth.
Confidence comes as a result of competence and not as a result of empty praises.
When we guide and train our child and equip him with the necessary basic life skills, he feels competent enough to face the challenges of daily life and is able to complete the tasks that are expected out of him.
True love means preparing your child to face the world and it is very far away from the mollycoddling that is done by many Indian mothers. For the sake of our children, we have to overcome this habit of treating our children as babies for too long.
(Related post: Involving children in household chores)
Sense of belonging
Children should be made to know that they are loved for who they are and not for what they achieve. Unconditional love and acceptance by family members gives them the sense of belonging.
The confidence that they have people in their life who will love them no matter what is a great asset to any child. Spending time together and developing family rituals like Saturday indoor games, family BBQ, family prayer time give them a sense of belonging.
On the surface it might appear as if nothing much was being achieved. I still remember our late night family chat under the tree in our garden with my parents and siblings. Surprisingly, I cherish them more than any one of the other productive activities that I did. I also remember the one on one chats I had with my grandma. It made me feel important when she would listen to everything that I blabbered. There were no lectures or interruptions from her side.
Finally self worth comes not only when we achieve something but also when we are kind and giving.
There are parts of the world where children don’t have access to schools. Many children go to bed with an empty stomach.
Encouraging children to develop empathy towards the less fortunate in the world, pitching in and helping with chores around the house gives them a sense of value.
In short, these are the 3 components of self esteem.
1. Confidence that comes because of competence – child has to be taught life skills
2. Sense of belonging – the child is anchored and has people to love, model and correct. So child is taught boundaries.
3. Sense of self worth – that comes when they are involved in worthy activities.
A happy home is where the child is guided to thrive and grow into a confident person with a sense of belonging and self worth.
A house with a lot of conflict or where parents are always busy and distracted is not a happy home. Let us create happy homes and watch our children blossom into happy contented adults.