Let’s face it, giving birth is one thing, but raising a child is completely different. There are hundreds of rule books on what you should or shouldn’t do but there is no one way of doing this right. We may pride ourselves in giving our child the best nutrition, toys, clothes and sending them to the best school but how attentive and loving are we towards them? On the other hand, we may not be able to afford any of the wonderful things we wanted for our child but we are always there for them and involved in anything they need our help on. Both styles have their pros and cons and in an ideal world, you can choose the best of both and raise a happy, well-adjusted child.
This article takes a hard look upon yourself and whether your parenting style is good or actually detrimental to the little one’s development. Although all of us believe whatever we do is in our best interest for the child, there comes a time when we need to step back and evaluate our choices (or lack thereof) for them. Easy indicators no matter where you come from, to understand how your decisions are actually not great for your child. All you need to do is look at your parenting style from these four lenses and if you are NOT doing too much of one or another, you are in the right direction.
- Are you too involved – ideally, your involvement should start diminishing as the child grows older? Letting them try and eat by themselves instead of constantly feeding them, let them crawl, walk without assistance, only provide a safe and baby-proofed environment. If you are one of those parents who doesn’t give a chance to their kids to try and dress or bathe themselves, even at the age of 5 as you still treat them as though they were 5 months old – you are too involved. Let them choose the clothes, toys, and food of their choice. You only need to step in if, for instance, their outfit choice is their pajamas or they can’t get enough of the raggedy, vomit stained baby blanket which they insist on dragging everywhere, or their food choice is only French fries with chocolate sauce for breakfast lunch and dinner. The key to not being too involved is allowing your child to take action or make a decision by themselves. Stand by and protect them, if they fall; guide them, if they are lost. The independence they will develop once you give them a chance will take them light years ahead.
- Are you too distant – the exact opposite of the earlier point but as detrimental. Expecting your child to do everything by themselves is cruel. If you leave them to complete a difficult piece of schoolwork by themselves, especially if they tell you they are lost, you are not encouraging them in a nurturing environment. Guide them to figure out the answers themselves in a loving manner. Show them the right path until they can walk the line themselves. If you feel the TV is more engaging than listening to your child’s day at school, you are too distant. If you don’t fuss and care for your child when they have taken a fall (as all children may do from time to time) you are teaching them never to rely on you and this will make them resentful of you. If you and your children are strangers living under the same roof, its time to bond and do it fast. Know your child, talk to him or her each day. Engage them in a family activity whether over dinner or at breakfast but don’t remain too distant else you will lose them forever.
- Are you too lenient – you need to learn when you can be their friend and when you need to be their parent. It is great to connect with your child and help and guide them. It’s not great if you become so close that the lines of parenting are blurred. If you find your child ignoring meal times and continuing to play, stop them immediately or take away their toys, don’t ignore it and allow this behavior justifying that “they just ate and won’t be hungry” and then giving them a snack well past their mealtimes. Set some boundaries and stand by them. Don’t be afraid of becoming the bad cop – think of this as giving your child some strong direction so they don’t become too permissive, spoilt and weak for every temptation. Knowing when to draw the line and teaching your child the same will enable them to withstand immediate gratification and also respect authority. Do you see the child who throws a tantrum every time at the same ice – cream aisle? That parent has always given in and reinforced the child to continue displaying bad behavior time and again as it will be rewarded with an ice- cream – and more.
- Are you too strict – if your entire parenting style is all about punishments- you are doing it wrong? This is the opposite of being too lenient and is also as bad, if not worse. Parents are meant to be children’s caregivers and the first person they turn to for love and affection. If you are always doling out speeches and sermons, ready with punishments each time they make a small mistake or taking away their toys and everything they loved because they got a B+, in their math test, instead of an A+, you need to stop now. Life, as we know it, is hard enough for all of us. You need to ensure your child has a happy and carefree childhood so they can withstand the trials and tribulations of adulthood. It is right to discipline them if they got into a fight with their school mate, it is not if you didn’t listen to them say they were bullied and punished them nonetheless. Listening and understanding why your child said or did the negative behavior is the key to becoming a good parent. Ignoring your child and expecting them to be perfect in every way in insuring you are raising someone who will become fearful or rebellious.