By Ameena Aliyu-Beighton
Raising children is undoubtedly one of life’s most precious but still daunting tasks. Here are my quick bites to steer every parent in the right direction. You may notice a recurring theme through my points; self esteem and confidence, that’s the numero uno in parenting.
1. Know your child
Every child is different, each with their natural or learned hang ups or obsessions. For instance, my son will not touch yellow coloured drinks probably because they remind him of pips from oranges which he doesn’t like. The idea is to embrace their uniqueness if they do not harm others around. It’s what makes them…well, them.
Help them know themselves and be happy in themselves by living through their eyes. Let go of just a little control of the everyday things in their lives. Like which activities they would like to take on after school or what would be good to cook for dinner.
2. Criticise healthily
It’s been suggested that healthy criticism of bad behaviour rather than character or personality and recognition of that distinction is a positive thing to incorporate into any type of family. For instance, correcting hitting another child saying, “That’s not a nice thing to do” as opposed to saying, “You are a bad/naughty child.” This will help them realise that they have control of their ‘labels,’ rather than them going “Oh! Well, I’m a naughty child so I’ll do naughty things.”
3. Routine it
Kids just love routine. From waking up, having a bath, being taken to school by dad, picked up mom, going to the supermarket, handing over the receipts to security for clearance, and so on. Knowing what happens next is stabilising and comforting. The occasional change around isn’t unhealthy as it helps them recognise that things may not always go according to plan but will be alright in the end. The science buds and Researchers are finding that children who are not allowed to face disappointments and don’t learn to deal with such situations, tend to be less resilient later in life and also more unable to control their emotions.
4. Hugs and kisses
Oh yes, hugs and kisses mean a lot. It’s expressive and can’t be faked. It’s the most natural way to show your affections. And not just for the kids. Pack on the display of affection with your partner in front of the kids (in moderation of course). This will give them a visual sense of togetherness. A peck on the cheek for daddy from mom or vice versa in the morning sends a wonderful message.
High fives work well too. Makes them feel grown up and able to not only complete the task at hand, but also get the hand eye coordination right to execute a high five. It’s no mean feat for a toddler.
5. Happy you for happy tot
It’s the age old cliché. A miserable mum or dad cannot foster an upbeat toddler. It’s much better to address your issues rather than bury your head in the sand, no matter how difficult things become. Kids pick up on such vibes. Even if that bill needs to be paid and you are frantically trying to figure out how, your little tyke should be blissfully unaware of your stress, which leads me nicely to my next bite.
6. A ball and a string is all it takes
Kids are amazing sponges soaking up everything around them, so feed their imagination, drawing inspiration from everyday things. Kids do not necessarily need complicated, up to minute child technology or gadetry to thrive or be happy. Do not over burden yourself with acquiring tonnes of toys or feel left out if you cannot. What they need is quality rather than quantity. This will also help them grow up into content adults within themselves without the need for props and possessions to validate their sense of self. Once you believe that you are giving your kids all of you, you can never go wrong.
7. Become the joker
It has been proven that parents who don’t take things or themselves too seriously all the time nurture confident and more measured children. Literally, becoming the joker and animating your expressions can help kids see the fun side of life. They are more able to confidently express their creative side with parents who provide the atmosphere for a little silliness. So, what if they think your love handles look like elephant ears? All the better to hear them with. You must keep yourself open. This will allow then be much more confident with other people they may look up to or in positions of power later in life. If they can have friendly relaxed conversations with mummy and daddy and they grow up with this notion, being able to speak in public or holding a position of power will be second nature.
8. Find the centre
Yes, we all wanted to do ballet as kids and imagine dressing our kids up the chocolate box style. However, as lovely as it sounds, if your toddler is showing preferences early on as mine is, allowing them build their own sense of person will help them build inner confidence. The science buds suggest that happiness and contentment doesn’t come from outside but inside. It now becomes a true balancing act in trying to give them what they need to thrive and allowing them the pleasures of being a cool kid.
9. ‘Monkey see, monkey do’
Kids want to be just like mum and dad. You may notice your toddler starting to use the same phrases as you or acting out everyday tasks they see you perform. My kids constantly tell each other off the way I do. In other words kids learn by example, especially from a trusted source like parents / caregiver. They pick up on every little detail, even when we think they are not listening or may not understand. For a toddler to develop and sustain healthy habits / behaviour and make good choices, parents must lead the way.
Tags: Parenting Toddlers & Preschoolers
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