11 child rearing tips recommended by top psychologists
Looking for helpful advice from leading experts in the field? Check out these 11 Child rearing tips recommended by top psychologists!
As a parent, you may find yourself faced with challenges and choices that are bit overwhelming at time. This often leads parents to wonder if what they're really doing is "the right thing," or if they're doing a "good job."
Every child and family is unique and each one functions differently from one another. So, it's difficult for parents to find the proper resources that can validate or assist their parenting styles or tactics. Luckily, a handful of leading psychologists have leant out their hands in hopes of making parenting a bit easier for a wide range of families.
Of course, there will never be a universal, all-purpose strategy to make the perfect parent. But, with these helpful tips from leading experts in the field, parenting can at least be more effective and more manageable!
Check out the advice these experts shared:
1. Present children with a 'forced choice'
Sometimes, as parents, you have to present children with a scenario that's best described as being caught between a rock and a hard place. They may not want to do the things you're offering, but you know and they know that it's something that must be done. Psychologist Linda Blair suggests a way to deal with situations like this: a "forced choice."
Instead of demanding that your kid does his homework, and then cleans his room, present him with a choice as to which one he wants to do first. "It gives the child the illusion of choice," says Blair.
This technique can be applied to just about any situation. For example, as Blair says, "Never say 'eat your carrots.' Say 'do you want peas or carrots?"
2. Give positive instructions/constructive criticism
"If you don't want a child to walk on the road, then it's best not to tell them 'don't walk on the road' - because you put the idea into their mind. Instead, say 'walk on the pavement because it's safer that way," says Psychologist and Author Steve Biddulph.
In other words, use positivity to manipulate how they see a situation. By outright saying what you don't want to be done, you offer them the keys to rebel and the understanding of what's wrong. Instead, you can use more constructive words to allow them to make the right choice in a number of different situations.
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3. Discuss technology and how it affects the family
Clinical psychologist Dr. Genevieve von Lob suggests that, "Today’s parents are the first to raise a generation of ‘digital natives' - children who have grown up with screens since birth." In other words, our kids are saturated with technology and this overabundance of screens and tech can eat away at a family's core values.
"There are no ready-made answers for managing online activity," von Lob says; however, there are a few different approaches that she suggests. For example, "Some families draw up a formal ‘contract’, governing screen use and ‘switch-off times’ for devices. But the main thing is to start an honest conversation and keep the dialogue going."
4. Don't add to your child's stress during difficult times at school
Your children may not be dealing with as much stress as you or some of your peers, but that doesn't mean they don't have anxieties or stressful situations to manage.
Older children, and kids during exam season, often have a lot on their minds. The pressures of studying, performing well, and pleasing their parents can put a lot of stress on them. As parents, you'd be wise to not add to the stress they're facing during difficult times at school.
Dr. von Lob suggests that this extends beyond exam season and academics as a whole. If there are any hardships at school whatsoever (e.g. bullying, poor score on a test, etc.), parents should work to help relieve the issue. "Try to discuss specific issues that are bothering them, normalise their feelings, and find out the best ways you can support them," von Lob suggests.
"By providing a kind, nurturing presence, you can model the kind of self-care that will stand them in good stead for life."
5. Listen to and empathise with your children
Dr. von Lob says that "when a child comes to a parent with a problem – whether it be friends, school or siblings – it’s natural to want to suggest solutions borne of your own, much longer, life experience. However, there are times when all your child really wants is someone to listen, empathise and validate what they’re feeling."
It's important that parents understand that sometimes kids, like their peers, often want to be heard. Lend your children a listening ear and try to understand their problems by putting yourself in their shoes instead of conjuring up a possible solution to their problems.
It may go against all of your parenting instincts to not solve your children's problems. However, it's okay for them to make encounter problems and make mistakes—just make sure they learn from them. "Allowing children to overcome challenges in a safe, contained way allows them to build their competence and sends a powerful message that you trust them," says Dr. von Lob.
6. Overestimate your child's potential
A lot of parents let negativity get the best of them. This leads to said parents underestimating their children. This is obviously not something that you want to do as a parent. You should have faith that your child can accomplish anything, even if the goal is a bit unreachable. Overestimating never hurt anyone!
"If you really overestimate your child and expect a lot from that - not pushing, but having pride in their potential - it translates and makes them want to try," says Linda Blair.
7. Praise good behavior
Some parents rarely praise good behavior because they believe it's what's expected of their children. Ideally, yes, it is something that should be expected. However, children need validation that they're performing and behaving up to the standards you've set. Make sure you're praising good behavior and positively embedding the idea of how to act in their minds.
This will have social benefits as well, specifically with their peers, suggests Psychologist Rachel Andrew. "If a group of children are together, praise the child who is doing what you're looking for - not calling out the ones who aren't," says Dr. Andrew. "Often the others will then copy that behaviour in search of the same level of praise."
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8. Commemorate hard word, but not achievements
This one may sound a bit iffy, but it's definitely worth its salt.
Let's say your child worked hard all school year to make straight A's, or the honor roll. Try praising all the hard work your kid put in to earning those grades instead of the grades themselves. Emphasise the important of the journey and not the destination.
"They can control effort not results," Linda Blair explains. "That depends on who else competes or what questions are asked, so if you want them to grow up into a confident adult, praise the effort they put in."
9. Encourage a healthy dose of sibling competition
While it's never wise to have your children compete for love, adoration, or the venerated title of "apple of my parent's eye", psychologists suggest that there's nothing wrong with a healthy dose of competition in the household. Namely, because it brings out the best in your children and encourages them to strive for greatness.
Dr. Rachel Andrew advises, "Put them in competition with each other to get the best out of everyone. Whether it's about sleeping or manners, if you make it a 'family thing' so they're all competing, then you'll see the best results."
10. Indulge in occasional "me time"
Parents are all too familiar with the importance of squeezing in a little "me time". Though it can be tough to find or make room for some personal time on your schedule, you mustn't ever underestimate the need for it.
"There might be times when you feel judged or under-appreciated by family and society as a whole. Remember that raising the next generation is the most important job going. Value yourself enough to take a little-me time," suggests von Lob.
11. Kids will be kids
Parents are often their own worst critics and often doubt whether or not they're doing a good job. Sure, parents make the occasional mistake, but it's okay to chalk your kid's latest outburst to the simple fact that kids will be kids!
Kids are volatile and unexpected. They're prone to fits, bad behavior, and outbursts simply because it's part of their development, not necessarily due to bad parenting! It'll be years until their brain fully develops. Dr. von Lob says that the human brain doesn't stop growing until 25! So, of course along the long road of development your child will act out.
Do your best as a parent, and expect meltdowns and tantrums from time to time. After all, kids will be kids!
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