When I was a new parent I would look at a lot of videos and do a lot of research into being the “perfect” parent. When you’re becoming a parent for the first time, people all around you will have something to share whether you want to hear it or not. After having kids, every parent thinks they’re an expert. As a new parent you will be very confused and feel incompetent mostly. Being responsible for another human, shaping the way they speak and think in the initial years is frightening. For the first two weeks of my first daughter’s life I was really worried. I felt like a failure. Here I am holding this perfect baby, I myself am not perfect so how am I supposed to raise her right?
Let me blatantly tell you from upfront…every child is different. Whatever works for someone else’s child may not work for yours. Their eating habits will be different, interests in activities will be different as well as disciplinary methods. You should enter parenting without taking others too seriously, take what they’re saying with a grain of salt. If you focus on them and their children too much, you may end up thinking there is something wrong with your child by the way she or he is responding to things. I myself am a victim of that. My first daughter walked at 18 months, she was simply just scared of falling down. Many people made me think it was my fault, maybe I didn’t do something I was supposed to, maybe something is wrong with my delayed child.
The key is understanding your children and accepting their diverse personalities. My daughter started coming into her own at around two years old, not eating, wanting too much cartoons or candy etc. She is a few weeks shy of three and has been very challenging these past few months. I am always reinventing ways and methods to deal with her carefully. Parenting in my childhood was like a dictatorship and I would not like to repeat that with my children. Comparing your children to other people’s children is a recipe for disaster. I can speak from experience. Way into adulthood, married with two children and I still have issues with not being good enough in my parents’ eyes.
Below I will share and discuss some things that I have observed or found helpful in being a parent.
Setting an example for your children. I think this is one of the first things that shapes children. They mimic everything we do, the way we hold a spoon, they way we speak, our manners, the way we do our hair etc. This means that they will also mimic the negative behaviors around them. They are always listening and paying attention. You may think they’re too young and don’t know what’s going on but they do and one day, they might surprise you with that negativity in public.
Knowing Your Child. Like I was saying above, each child is different and responds to things differently. Some may be faster or slower, it is important not to compare. You will only find things wrong with your child. They are just like us, each with a different personality and mindset. Understand your child’s personality and what his or her interests are and encourage them to excel at it. For example, my daughter likes pretend play and building things. While I hate my house looking like a toy store, it’s better to encourage her interests and creativity than forcing something else on her. She is happy, I am happy.
Too Much Affection. Is there something as too much of this??? I don’t think so. Some people get confused between giving a child too much love and turning them into a spoiled brat. You create a brat by letting them feel like they are always entitled to their own way and having or doing whatever they want. You child needs as much affection as possible.
Getting Involved. A lot of us are just great providers for our children and that is not equivalent to great parenting. Children need attention from their parents. My daughter is constantly doing things to gain my approval and if she is ignored, her faces drops so low. They like when we express our appreciation. They need to know we are proud of them and we need to show it. The day you become a parent, you have to work your priorities around your child. Be there both physically and mentally.
Give them independence. No, I’m not going crazy. I know there is a limit to how much freedom we should give small children but you have to let them participate in their own lives. Children get tired and frustrated of always hearing no, no, no. Let them decide what they will wear today, or what they prefer for breakfast. Now you get where this is going? They also want to be independent but we as adults accuse them of being rebellious or disobedient. They aren’t always easy to parent but if you pay attention and listen to them, you may understand more than you thought you understood.
Be Consistent with Rules. This is an important one and it had blown up in my face one or two times. I have always believed and will stand my ground when I say children need routines, consistency and rules. My husband and I are the only two people that raise and discipline my daughter. Sometimes I would set down a rule and he will allow her to bend it…I can’t begin to explain how chaotic life feels at that point. I am saying one thing and she is throwing a tantrum because he said something else. What we found worked better was when we both stuck to the same rules and not give in. When she sees we mean business, there is no tantrums to throw because she knows she can’t tantrum her way out of this.
Explaining Rules. As much as rules are awesome, children won’t follow unless they have some sort of understanding of why they are doing what they are doing. Explain to them why they are being punished or why they need to eat veggies. Right now I’m having a hard time at bath time. I explain we need to take showers to get rid of germs so we won’t get sick, or we need to eat so we can grow strong and tall. It doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Adapt parenting to fit your child. As I was saying before, each child is different react differently to things. Understand how to deal with your kid, simple. For instance, time out does not work for us, that will just result in a tantrum and we would waste a day going back and forth in the corner. I just take away some privileges like cartoons or painting. If she wants to do these things, then she has to behave or listen. That may not work for each child, personalize your own parenting.
Treat Them With Respect. We often forget that our children are humans and they have the same feelings as us. Sometimes we may want to snap at them thinking “Ohhh they’ll get over it.” They do remember. I am human, I snap on impulse. It should not be beneath you to apologize to your child. Respect them, speak to them politely, tell them thank you or good job.
It Matters To Them. Recently I butt heads with my parents about this. My daughter likes to take all her toys and line them up on the couch. It seems senseless to many parents, these random things. My parents thought my daughter was just making a mess all over. But if you pay attention to what she is saying, it makes perfect sense why the toys are lined up they way they are. She took her time and did it neatly. It makes perfect sense to her that her stuffed animal is wearing a diaper and a jacket. These random things don’t hurt anyone at the end of day, you can let it slide.
Disclaimer: I’m not an expert and whatever I said here may not make sense to you. These are just observations and things I have learnt from parenting my own daughter.
Good Luck 🙂