Key principles in raising happy and independent child.
Being a parent is probably the most responsible, the most important and the hardest task you will ever face. There is no perfect or universal way to raise children successfully, but there are some key behaviours and actions you have to remember. During your parenthood, you’ll go throughout many challenging and problematic situations, and you will have plenty decisions to make. Even more - most of the time you won’t know what decision is right and you are not going to be sure of your choice. But this is nothing unusual so don’t be afraid to make a mistake- we all do, but try your best not to make it again.
A list of MUST DO and MUST NOT DO is very long, that’s why it will be more than one article dedicated to this topic.
- Be consequent.
It is probably the most important behaviour you can undertake to make sure that your child will develop a stable and permanent normative system. Thanks to being consequent in relation with your child you will avoid it to be confused with the social rules and individual performance. It will be more stable emotionally and more tend to take responsibility for its choices. What does it mean to be consequent? It’s not difficult, but it requires a lot of strong will, rationality and assertiveness. Most of the parents feel guilty when the child is unhappy or upset because of the resolution. In fact of that, very often they are changing their mind and trying to explain themselves. This causes a lot of issues. First of all, they’re losing the authority status. The child will think that if mommy and daddy are making a decision and after a while, they are changing it, this is how it should be or this is their weakness. More likely that it’s going to be considered as a weakness because children are very percipient and they will spot very quickly it can be used for their purposes.
For instance, when your child wants an ice-cream before lunch, and you know that this is inappropriate because it will stop him from eating a proper meal, you are naturally refusing. But then your pupil is getting mad at you, starts crying, stamps his feet and is apparently disappointed. What will you probably do? You feel that your action made him behave and feel like this, so it’s possible that you will sit him on your laps, apologise, ask to stop being upset and give the possessed snack. Lunch won’t be eaten, no valuable nutrients will be consumed, your authority status will suffer, but at least smiley face of your baby is going to compensate it all. No. It’s not working this way. Every event where you are showing your child that you are not consistent in action and decision making you are exposing yourself to manipulation. Yes. Your child will manipulate you and take all opportunity to achieve his goal - whether it’s getting candy, new toy, going to bed later than normally or staying overnight outside the home in the future. Moreover, he won’t see anything wrong in persuasion. But you will be a looser.
Always be consistent with your partner.
Following the previous point about being consequent, you have to remember that it takes two to tango. Your child has two parents, even, if you and your partner are no longer together. Around year 5 of age, a child is developing skills to associating facts and begin to realise that there is such a thing as a relationship of cause and effect. He is more conscious about relations between people and figures out that people are different in their opinions, attitudes, etc. As a human being, he decides about establishing relationships with others in the same way as adults. We like similarities. We prefer those, who have the similar opinion to us and who are supporting our expectations. Additionally, if you could imagine, that you have a child who has no idea about what is right or wrong (because it doesn’t understand normative system just yet) and you and your partner have two opposite opinion in the same matter - what your child should think? Whose opinion is more valuable? Who is right? Whom shall I follow? Those questions your child will ask every time his parents will be discussing something in front of him. Imagine the situation with ice-cream from the previous point. You are cynical about giving ice-creams before dinner, but your partner is trying to convince you that this is an excellent idea. In your child's eyes you are the “bad one”- just because you do not agree to what he wants. Regarding that, the next situation like this and you can be sure that your child will go to your partner straight away to ask for permission. Why? To avoid disappointment, to capture what is desirable without random perturbations and to affirm belief in who is on his side. In effect, your partner will gain a false authority and both of you will draw into calculation process made by your child. The results for you as parents and for your kid are various. Your relationship could suffer because you will be fighting for the favour of the child. From the other side, it'll turn against the child in the adulthood- less stability, emotional frustration, influencing other people's feelings, playing the games for personal satisfaction.
How can you prevent it? You and your partner always discuss things before you will make a decision and speak to your child. If your child is coming to you to ask for permission, never say yes or no- always warn your child that you have to talk to mummy/daddy first, and then both of you will introduce what is decided. Your partner must do the same. Remember- you are the members of one team! Thanks to this, both parents gain authority and are sending the signal that, no matter what, you support each other in good faith.
Every decision you make has to be explained.
Have you ever heard about given explanation that sounded “No because no”, “No because I said so.”
It is the worst thing you can do to your child. As I wrote in the previous article, children are separate individuals. They are the same human being as adults but in a little body. Basic thing in our development is the proper understanding of the world and principles. We can’t move on if we don’t know an exact outcome or feedback. We build rapport and establish relations with others based on trust, truthfulness and comprehension. That’s why a proper explanation is so important. It will shape our awareness as well as the perception of the world and people. Treat your child as a full member of society and teach him the right way of symbiosis. He will give it back to you, and this is what you expect, isn’t it?
Do not try to convince your child by all means, that what you say is the only true and he must think the same as you do. Let him process all given information and create his private opinion. But provide him with available data, so he will have a sound basis for doing so.
For instance (Ice-cream again), if your child will ask you why he can not get the ice-cream before lunch and you will answer “No because no” you child will be confused. He will have no data to think about why it was a bad idea to eat ice-creams before a meal. Next time he will ask the same question, and there will be no changes in his mindset. But if you will clarify it, for example saying “This is not a good idea sweetheart because we’re having lunch in half an hour. If you will have an i-c you won’t fit in your lunch”. You better don’t think this is enough explanation that will stop your stubborn before persuading. You constantly will have to give a new reason to support your approach and remain unmoved at the manifestations of manipulation and forcing behaviour. Believe you me - it will pay off!
Above principles are probably one of the most essential if you want to have a healthy, happy, emotionally stable and well mannered child. To find out more about fundamental principles keep reading my articles- next coming soon.
Also remember that if you have any issues with raising your child and you feel you may need help with it, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Have a lovely week!