Raising a child nowadays can be challenging (to say the least). And once you have a child, you realise that the world is a little bit like a rose. It's beautiful, of course - but there are also thorns everywhere to look out for. And as parents, we want nothing more than to keep our children safe and (hopefully) raise them to become decent human beings! But it's often a lot easier said than done.
So, here are five ways you can "try" and raise a decent human being in the modern world of parenting:
Model the behaviour you wish to see
There's no surprise that children learn through imitation. They will most definitely pick up on every little thing that you are doing! Be it the way you walk, talk, eat - you name it, they can see it. That's why it's so important to be on your best behaviour when the kids are around. Something that really helped with my toddler was saying my own please and thank yous! You'd be surprised how quickly he picked up on it - I gave him his sippy cup, and he said, "Thank you, Mummy" I can't explain to you the amount of joy I felt at that moment. Since then, I knew that if I wanted to teach my child something, I had to do it myself first. Most kids won't always play ball, but they will most definitely store those positive behavioural traits in their heads, ready to use later.
What's the underlying cause?
Every child has a tantrum now and then, and for some, it's all the time. So, it's essential to understand the cause for their emotions because their emotions = their actions and behaviours. We don't like to admit it, but we as parents like to get our own way and that's because sometimes it's just easier! For example, my son wanted to go to the garden when I was trying to get him ready to go to the park. I kept telling him, "no, we need to get dressed, and if you don't listen, we won't go". Lo and behold, there came the tantrum! After a few deep breaths, I asked him "tell me why you want to go to the garden?" He said, "Take ball". As you can imagine, the "mum guilt" hit me like a truck! This method won't work all the time, but it'll feel like a breakthrough moment when it does.
Honour your child's authentic self
It's so important to understand that no child is the same. They all come with different personalities, abilities and levels of development. So, take the time to understand what your child needs and wants from you. Do they prefer options rather than being told that they're having toast for breakfast? or would they value space at that moment instead of a full-blown lecture about what they did wrong? By thinking about these things and considering your child's unique personality, you are trusting their judgment and helping them trust their own - which in the future will help them with skills like communication and discussion making.
Teach Them Empathy
In a world that can sometimes look and feel so cruel, it's definitely worth teaching the importance of empathy. If your child throws something at you, says something nasty, or even watches something on TV that doesn't sit right. Let them know how that can make people feel! Last week, we watched an episode of Peppa Pig, and the characters argued. I asked my son, "How did that make Peppa feel?" I explained, "That wasn't very nice" and then told him "You should talk to your friends nicely". The earlier your kids learn that their actions have positive and negative reactions, the better. Be elaborate with your feelings, and don't worry about showing them emotions. The more they see, the more they'll understand.
Have an open Mindset from day one
Your child has a mind of their own and will ultimately make assumptions, choices and have particular likes and dislikes. I really struggled with the fact that I won't always be able to protect my child from everything around them. But what I've learned is that you can prepare them with the skills that they'll need. Teach them obvious emotions to express or act out how they are feeling - happy, sad, grumpy, excited, are a few good ones to start. Make sure that you have an open mindset when it comes to communication; talk to your child about how mummy and daddy are feeling, what made them happy today, what made them sad and what they did about it. By doing this, you are teaching your child to be open and communicative, which will allow you to talk to them about more complex topics and help them navigate uncomfortable situations later on.
Your role as a parent and their friend is to be there for them when they need you the most, give them space to explore and sometimes trust their judgement even if what they're doing isn't how you would have done it. Let them make their mistakes, grow from their decisions and be their own person! I think what's important is to create a bond based on love, understanding, transparency, and, most importantly, a safe space to be who they are without judgment.
Himanshi @ Mamamade