A child is a blessing for the parents. But the same blessing comes with many responsibilities. A child does not just need a good upbringing but one that is filled with love and affection. It was not an issue in the age of our parents when families comprised nearly 10 members. Families lived together. There was no sacrifice on anyone’s part. Everyone did their part to raise a child. But now that families have gone nuclear, the bulk of parenting falls on the parents. Combined with internet experts, we now have parenting as a very complex process.
The internet has taken the role of a counsellor for new parents. It is a mine of information with many experts cataloguing their views on parenting and how parents need to spend more quality time with children. The result being, mothers getting too involved in the child’s life. Every decision from the extracurricular classes to the sports, it's the parent who makes decisions. In most cases, the child doesn't get a say.
Parenting Types Explained
With the change in society and modern life, parenting styles have changed from traditional styles to something more. Parents have evolved along with the parenting styles for the better or worse. Not all parenting styles are beneficial to children. Few leave much to be desired.
Your parenting style dictates how your child grows in the future. Their self-worth, development and social growth all depend on how you interact with them and how you discipline them. Even though the way you raise your children varies, there are enough similarities to be classified into four categories.
Are all the parenting styles good? Do they give way for the child to grow independently? Do they complement the child’s sense of self-worth?
Is your parenting style “my way or the highway”? Do you convey your expectations to your children? Do you expect your child to blindly obey you?
If you identify with these questions, you are an authoritarian parent. The authoritarian parents have high expectations from their children and also blind obedience. They are not interested in teaching the children the reason behind their rules. Their punishments are more about making the children sorry for their mistakes rather than making them understand and helping them make better choices.
Children with these parents often develop low self-esteem. Though they are good at obeying rules, they don't think for themselves. Low academic performance, poor social skills, delinquency are common among these children. They rebel the most, later becoming hostile. They are also better liars, having sharpened their lying skills to escape punishment.
Do you spend time with your children teaching them the reason behind the rules? Do you have a positive relationship with your children? You discipline your children and not punish them?
You are blessed to be an authoritative parent. An authoritative parent also has high expectations for their children and demands them to be met. But they are also nurturing and reasonable. Whatever the rules they set for their child, it would be explained. Communication between the child and the parent is a two-way street. They are supportive of their children.
Children of these parents would have high self-esteem and also good discipline. Their academic performance and social skills are above average. They tend to be successful and happy in the lives they lead. They grow into responsible adults and are good at making decisions.
You are not particular about rules and not about enforcing them either? Do you prefer letting your child grow with little intervention?
You are the typical permissive parent. Permissive parents are quite lenient but very warm and responsive. They do not have many expectations for their children. They are usually indulgent and certainly do not enforce rules and face consequences with the attitude of “kids will be kids”. They have great communication with the children, but it’s more like a friend than a parent.
Kids growing with a permissive parent have impulsive behaviour. They have poor social skills and low self-esteem. They are also prone to obesity and health problems because of the permissive lifestyle. Growing up, these children turn out to be egocentric adults and often in problematic relationships.
Are you stumped with work and home that you are not able to have the basic line of communication with your child? Do you know what's going on in school? Do you keep tabs on your child? Any idea about your child's friends?
If your answer is "No", you are an uninvolved parent. The children of uninvolved parents do not have many rules and are let to raise themselves. They are not warm, nurturing, and responsive. The children’s basic needs are barely met. Uninvolved parents often rarely have any idea about children’s life or whereabouts.
These children usually struggle with their self-esteem. They are quite impulsive and tend to perform poorly in school. They are also prone to drug and alcohol abuse and exhibit behavioural problems.
Positive parenting, while sounding like a gimmick, is parenting redefined to suit the current world. It centres on developing a committed relationship with your child where he/she trusts and respects you. It is about teaching the kid the why behind your rules. Here, the kids learn better self-control and regulate their emotions.
Positive Parenting not Permissive Parenting
While positive parenting might seem similar to permissive parenting, it is much closer to authoritative parenting. Permissive parents have fewer to no rules for their children. They also do not enforce what little rules they have, nor do they correct the children. In positive parenting again you do not punish the children but discipline the children.
You teach the children to be a better member of society. Discipling them involves listening to the children and letting them know where they went wrong. This way you avoid the same incident happening again.
Why Positive Parenting?
Positive parenting can be begun as early as possible for the children. They benefit massively when you follow positive parenting at an early age. Children showcase increased self-esteem than their peers. They are also much more optimistic and better adjusted. Children have better cognitive and social development for their age. Adolescents also exhibit finer social skills and increased resilience. They also prove to be resilient to peer pressure and negative influences.
Discipline in Positive Parenting
Discipline has always been synonymous with punishment. But it cannot be more different. While punishment refers to something negative, discipline refers to teaching. In positive discipline, think about teaching and guiding the child to do the right thing instead of punishing for wrong behaviour.
When your toddler acts out, try getting the child to understand what was wrong. Teach them it is wrong to hit someone. Tell them their behaviour was bad, not themselves. Understand what made them lash out. Maybe they are tired or hungry or just vying for attention. Point out how they could correct themselves. Without the knowledge of correct behaviour, they would continue their original behaviour. Give them a chance to make right by giving them choices. Finally, be consistent with your discipline.
Pointers for Effective Parenting
Be a Role Model
Kids first start learning from you. Even as babies you are their role model. They learn by imitating you. They take their social cues from you. Watch how you respond to your kid’s requests and tantrums. If hitting is your response, expect the same from them. Using physical discipline teaches them that it is okay to hit.
Teach them by association. Be kind; Be Honest; Tolerate and not lash out. If you want your child to be compassionate, be so yourself. Show respect and gain respect. Offer compliments and be courteous. Treat your child well and acknowledge his emotion just as you would expect from others.
Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Kids develop a sense of self-esteem right from when they are young. Your actions and words help them establish their self-worth. Being young, their sense of self-worth and self-esteem is very fragile. Their developing self-esteem can be easily defeated. Avoid using statements loaded with spite. And stop comparing them with other or worse their siblings.
On the other hand, praise them, even for the littlest accomplishment. Assure them that you are proud of them. Let them do things independently. When things go wrong, as they do at times, be by their side. Support them and correct their mistakes. Let them know that you love them even when they are in their bad behaviour.
Set Time for Your Child
Parenting is hard work. You often need to sacrifice; put time and effort to be with your child, whatever age he/she is. It is not often that you get time to spend as a family. Rearrange your chores and make time for your children. There’s nothing they would like more than to be with you.
Children love when they get undivided attention from their parents. Not just family time, make sure you spend some alone time with each child. Children who have their parents' time tend to misbehave less. While adolescents and teens would not want as much attention as they were as kids, be sure to let them know that you are there for them. And walk your talk. Be available to them.
Parental Love is Unconditional
You simply cannot spoil a child by loving too much. It’s the things you do in the name of love that spoils the child. The gifts, lower expectations and over protectiveness that spoils the child. Material indulgences are usually given in the place of love or when the parent is not able to spend time with the child. When it comes to children, it need not be any grand gesture, just a hug does great for them.
Make sure your love shines through even when disciplining your children. Do not take a confrontational tone, blame them or criticize them. This leads to lowered self-esteem and resentment. Let them know that even though you are disappointed, you love them no matter what.
Maintain Consistent Discipline
From the words of the master, Laurence Steinberg says “When parents aren't consistent, children get confused. Force yourself to be more consistent." When you aren’t consistent in your discipline, it is your fault that children are spoilt. Set your rules, limits and expectations.
Set clear house rules and the discipline for not following them. Let the kids follow the expectations that you set and master self-control. Along with being firm, also be kind. Do not set rules that they cannot follow or are sure to fail. Children might test your limits now but would grow into responsible adults.
Make Adjustments as They Grow
Do not expect your children to follow the same set of rules that you established when they were children. While your 3-year-old accepts your firm “No”, a 13-year-old might not. He/she would need adequate explanations for your refusal. Adjust your parenting style according to his/her age and also to the environment. You cannot simply expect the same parenting style to work for you every time.
As the children grow they tend to figure out their individuality and look to their peers for role models. This is when you ease up, giving them independence while guiding them and helping them make the right decisions.
Communicate Your Feelings
Stop asking the child to obey you, just because you said so. Instead, let them know of your expectations and the consequences of not meeting them. Invite them to work with you. Make sure both of you have your choices and solutions on the table. This way they can negotiate with you and take decisions themselves.
Make sure you listen to your child and that you are there for them. An open line of communication makes your child come to you in times of trouble. Listen to her/him when they come to you for advice. They might not always want a solution, but a lending ear always helps.
Be Their Safe Haven
Be a safe haven for your children and let them fall back onto you in times of trouble. Let your kids know that you are there for them. Be sensitive to their wants and needs. Allow them to grow as individuals and not as an extension of you. Respond to their emotional needs. Being there for them as a responsive parent helps them to have a better emotional, mental and social development than their peers.
Talk about Your Childhood
Your childhood is a source of constant interest for your child even as an adult. Feed into their interest and use it as a chance to teach your kids to learn from your mistakes. Accepting your mistakes takes a lot, but it opens your child to a new world and can bring you closer together. Be mindful of your mistakes as a parent and change your approach towards your children. You might not be successful right now but definitely, in the future, there would be results.
Your Well-Being Matters
A parent’s well being and self-care goes to the back burner when a child is born. Often this means your health and marriage might get into trouble. For the well being of your child, your physical and emotional health needs to be in peak condition. Go to your family members for help. Take time out to care for yourself and rejuvenate. Don't wait until you are burned out.
Know your limitations and work on your weaknesses. Understand your strengths and use them to your advantage. Don't be hard on yourself. You are not a bad parent just because your needs come first. Caring for your well being sets an example for your child.
Love Them Unconditionally
Try to see your child as a seed that came in a packet without a label. Your job is to provide the right environment and nutrients and to pull the weeds. You can’t decide what kind of flower you’ll get or in which season it will bloom.
Hug your child. A hug conveys many feelings that words can never express. Read them chapter books they can look forward to daily. Notice something they’ve put effort into. Have eye contact with your children when you’re speaking to them. Say “I love you" as much as you can.