Do you panic if your friend’s child passes a milestone before yours? Do you find yourself googling “why is my child…” or “when should my child…?” Do you hear a child in the park playfully counting her dolls, and then wonder why your child isn’t at that stage yet? The biggest advice we can give you is DO NOT PANIC. They all catch up eventually! Read on for our top 10 parenting tips to raising a happy, well adjusted child.
Some kids advance faster than others. Some kids excel at certain things, others struggle in certain areas. There are lots of factors that can influence child development (see blog post) and all kids develop at their own pace. Praise their successes, delight at their milestones, and try not to fret too much about whether they’re hitting them all at the right time. Defer to your pediatrician if you’re at all worried, but also try to remember, no one will remember or care whose kid walked first or what age little Johnny read his first word. Being an early walker or talker or reader, doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on future endeavors. Focus on bringing up a well-loved, well-adjusted happy child. The rest is secondary!
10 Parenting Tips to Raising a Happy, Well-Rounded Child:
- Strengths – identify and focus on your child's strengths.This is a great way to develop their self-confidence and self-esteem. Being good/great at something will make them more likely to try something else. You can also use it to remind them how they may have struggled at first and persevered until they got better – a learning for next time they find something hard!
- Set them up for success. Children act out for all different reasons. Try to see beyond the “what” and look at the “why”. Were they tired? Were they hungry? Did we set them up for failure when we took them with us to the loud, busy grocery store when they had just had a busy morning at preschool? Meet your child where they’re at. Don’t expect them to be able to subtract 10 from 5, if they’re still leaning to count past 3. Focus on praising your child and elevating their positive attributes and behaviors.
- Calm over anger – Don’t mock your child or try to shame them into behaving better. This can often have the opposite effect from what you’re trying to achieve. Long-winded explanations as to what they did wrong won’t help much either. Keep it brief and calm with clear call to action. When you see your child’s not playing nicely at the park, instead of a 5 minute lecture on all the things they did wrong, try a simple reminder to “play nicely”.
- Celebrate their differences. Parents with multiple children tend to have a “one size fits all approach”. But we forget that every child is unique and responds differently. Reward charts may prove an essential incentive for one child, whereas 10 minutes extra of playtime might work for another. Adapt to each child and do whatever works best for them.
- No comparisons. We don’t want to be compared to other parents so why should we compare our kids to other kids, or even their siblings? Allow them to be their own person, celebrate each child for the individuals they are. It’s irrelevant if their brother could count up to ten by this age or can sit quietly and do their homework. Pointing that out won’t help, it’ll just make your child feel self-conscious and inadequate and can create long-term issues with sibling rivalry. Instead, just focus on their individual strengths and needs.
- You don’t need to do this alone. If you need help, find support or advice. Raising kids isn’t easy. We all have very different experiences and issues, but sometimes when we struggle, we assume everyone else has it together, and that our situation is unique. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.
- Unity – if you’re co-parenting whether it’s with your partner or an ex, try to put on a united front. Try not to undermine your co-parent/partner by disagreeing about parenting decisions in front of your child. Instead talk it over in private, before presenting your decision. This will help your child maintain a healthy respect for both parents and for your authority.
- Not all attention is equal. Some kids thrive off attention more than others. To some, any attention, whether it be positive or negative, is better than none. If they aren’t getting enough attention from home, they might try to seek it outside the home and if the only way they can get it is by acting out and misbehaving, then they might purposely seek out negative attention. Communicate with your child, bond with your child and be present for them.
- Parent by example. Kids pick up on your moods. If you’re stomping around the house, being short-tempered, you can’t expect other members of the household to not be affected by it. Young kids especially, are talented mimics, they copy what they hear and model their behaviors on their parents. So, check in with yourself, and be mindful of what lessons they’re learning from you. Rather than a “do as I say, not as I do” approach, practice what you preach. Show them, through your own behavior, actions and reactions, what to do/how to act.
- Never give up. As much as we might struggle, as much as our children might get on our last nerve (especially as they enter the teenage years), but with love and support, even the most troublesome kids can turn into fantastic adults. It’s our job as parents to pick them up when they fall, listen when they need to rant, be their shoulder to cry on, and “their person.” We need to have their back, no matter what.
For more parenting tips, check out last week's post about how to say NO without saying no!
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- Tags: child development, factors that influence child development, parenting tip, Parenting Tip of the Week