We all want the best for our kids. We want them to be the best that they can be, physically, emotionally and socially. We want them to have happy memories of their childhood. With everything that we want to do, that we’re told we “should” be doing and juggling with that with our own lives, it can seem impossible to support healthy child development. Achieving all of this can be a challenge for any parent. With so much to juggle with our children and our own lives it can seem like an impossible task.
Supporting our child’s healthy development doesn’t mean endless classes or after-school activities. They have their place, but if you don’t have the time, the money, or even the desire to organise a variety of activities for your child, I’m here to reassure you that you don’t have to.
1: Keep Calm
The best outcomes for children happen when they are raised in emotionally safe and supportive environments.
No-one likes to be yelled at and yelling doesn’t ensure our child listens anyway. How many times have we all yelled at our kids just to be heard and our kids still don’t listen to us? Frustrating isn’t it!
When we remain calmer by taking a step back and doing some deep breathing before talking to our kids we can guide and redirect them to do what they need to be doing, or behaving in a different way with greater ease.
Our kids learn more quickly when they hear our message in a calmer manner. Them learning quicker mean less repeating of ourselves which makes parenting easier and us a lot happier!
2: Listen To Our Child
Our children want to be heard. Whether it’s our young baby learning to talk by babbling, through to toddlers with a million questions and onto pre-teens and teenagers developing life skills and coping with their problems.
When we listen to our children we are demonstrate love, even if we disagree with their position or are ready to help correct them.
Listening to them, teaches them how to listen to others, including us, by modelling behaviour. This sets them up for positive interpersonal relationships as they grow older and into adulthood.
When our children feel listened to they feel loved and safe and which supports positives and healthy physical and emotional child development.
3: Be Consistent
Consistency lays a foundational base of stability. Our children can explore the world knowing they have a safe base to return to when things get too much. It comes from being clear with our children about the family rules as well as limits and boundaries expected from all members (parents included!).
Consistency requires that there is open communication between parents and child. Family meetings and parenting plans help us achieve this. It may seem formal but it allows for everyone to understand what is expected of them and work together.
In co-parenting families, it is important to have all parents (including step-parents) on the same page. When children get mixed messages from one parent saying one thing, and the other saying another, it is it confusing for the child. Healthy child development is delayed.
Parenting plans are very useful for co-parenting relationships and help facilitate communication between the two households and support the mental and emotional security and development of children in a situation that could possibly be disruptive to their development.
4: Express Empathy
Behaviour problems are often emotional problems. Behaviour is communication. Our children express anger, frustration, sadness, shame, guilt and more through their behaviour.
The key to solving behaviour problems with our children is to look at the emotion that is behind the behaviour first.
When we put on our parenting detective hat and ask “What is my child feeling here?”, we can get to the root cause of their behaviour and fix that, not just put a bandaid on the solution.
Everyone, our children included, want to be understood. When we look at our child’s emotions we can help them develop the skills of emotional regularity (healthy expression of emotions) and support their development.
Being present with our child and telling them , “I know / understand you are feeling xyz and I’m here with you” will demonstrate to them that you are on their side and provide that sense of safety and security they need to develop in the best way possible.
5: Pick Your Battles
As parents we can’t support our child when we are constantly fighting with them. Sometimes we have to pick our battles.
When kids are exposed to calmer and happier family environments where there is less arguing and demanding of their behaviour their mental and emotional health is protected.
Picking our battles means that we are flexible as parents which can also help our children develop the skills of working with someone else.
As an added bonus, picking our battles decreases our stress levels. When mum is less stressed, the kids are less stressed. If stress levels go down, the whole family gets along better.
If it is important that your child does something particular, present them with two options that lead to the same result. Your child gets to choose and feels empowered and respected by their decision and you as the parent get what you need as well. It’s a win-win situation!
6: Heal Our Own Past
We don’t come into this parenting gig completely devoid of experience. After all we were all parented ourselves and we will often adopt the attitudes and behaviours of our own parents.
However, sometimes they aren’t helpful, or in line with the type of parent we want to be.
When we take steps to heal and move on from trauma or conflict we may have experienced as a child then we provide a blank slate for our parenting experience. This means that we can design the type of parent we want to be and in an individualised way, supporting their needs.
7: Practice Self-Care
Looking after yourself means that you’re looking after your kids. When you ensure you have enough in reserves to give to your kids without feeling resentful you can support your child’s development while supporting your own mental health.
Stress management, physical and emotional self-care makes parenting easier. When we feel looked after then we have the energy within ourselves to be calm, be consistent and pick our battles. If we are exhausted and haven’t spent any time looking after ourselves then this is almost impossible.
It can be hard to find the time in a busy mum’s life to fit self-care in. We need to shift our perception so we believe and act as our self-care is an equal priority to that we give to our children.
8: Set A Positive Example
One of the best things we can do for our child’s development is be the type of person that we want them to be. Children learn better by seeing and doing, rather than being told. Setting a positive example means our child will learn the positive behaviour that is expected of them.
When we set a positive example our children develop trust in us. When we set a limit and hold ourselves to the same standards as our children, then they develop trust. This helps them develop a sense of security which supports child development.
9: Focus On Positive Behaviour
In the day to day routine of motherhood it can be easy to slip into a pattern of focusing on our child’s negative behaviour. We notice the tantrums, screaming, fighting and the arguments and not the positive behaviour that happens in between.
When we focus on negative behaviour, we give our children attention. As part of their development, children want and need our attention. To get our attention, our children will repeat the behaviour that we focus on. Focus on positive behaviour, get the same in return and support overall child development.
Focusing on positive behaviour not only enhances development but also helps us enjoy time with our child and being a parent, even in the difficult times. will they do it more to fulfil their needs, enhance their develop but we will also enjoy our child and being a parent more.
Being a parent is one of the hardest and most rewarding things we can ever do. The above nine strategies can help us make parenting easier as well as get the best outcomes for our child’s physical and emotional development. After all isn’t that what we all want?
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