Parenting isn’t easy! There’s no two minds about it. From the birth of your child, or may be even before it, to growing years, you train your mind for every possible parenting challenge you can think of, arm yourself with the best of guidance, help, information, resources, back up, and resort to every possible way you can think of, to ensure you do your best job. Despite all the efforts you put in, you may still find yourself on cross roads when your child starts to attain social, emotional, psychological identities, each effecting his mind, emotions, behavior and thoughts. Children may not always be vocal about their thoughts and struggles, some of which are so deeply ingrained in the subconscious mind that they may themselves not be aware of it. However, familiarizing yourself with Child Psychology, can help you deal with difficult situations, understand the functioning of your child's mind, and adopt the right approaches in parenting.
Originated in the 20th century, Child Psychology, is one of the many branches of Psychology. It focuses on the development of mind and changing behaviors in children throughout their growing years. Despite how well you think you know your child, understanding how a child's mind functions, will keep you steer clear from wrong interpretations and make the right judgement. It will also help you understand your child from a child’s perspective, than an adult's, thus taking an empathetic parenting approach.
Have a look at 10 such parenting tips based on child psychology, that may take the edge off your parenting struggles.
Observe: As simple as it may sound, observation can be a great insight into a child's mind. Pay close attention to the way he talks, reacts, expresses, eats, plays. What you dismiss off as something ordinary, could possibly be a physical or behavioral expression of a deep rooted belief or fear. Observe your child’s behavior and reactions around people, situations, and circumstances. Sometimes the biggest breakthrough of an ongoing problem, begins with identification of a simple trigger or pattern, that you may have missed if you didn’t pay close attention.
Use a Positive Approach: With the stress and struggles of everyday life, it’s easy to let the negativity trickle down to your interactions with children. If you use a bad day as an excuse to be rude to your child, or let your behavior with your child turn negative because of a stressful phase, your child will develop aggressive and negative traits too. Moreover, he will grow up to believe that it’s OK for someone else to bear the brunt of his emotions, sowing the seeds of low emotional intelligence.
Give Complete Attention in Conversations: Adults may probably brush off your halfhearted attention in a conversation, assuming you’re busy or have something more important on your mind. However, children may assume the same as a sign of lack of love and respect. Look into your child’s eyes while speaking, preferably lower yourself physically, to meet the same level. Give complete attention to what they have to say. What may seem unimportant or silly to you, is still a form of self-expression for the child. Not paying complete attention in such situations can make the child think that their expressions, opinions and thoughts don’t matter to you.
Take You Child’s Opinion: When making decisions for the child, or in situations where the child is involved, don’t forget to take the child’s opinion too. Even a simple question as “Is that okay with you?” makes the child feel involved in the decision making process. When a child feels involved, he takes it as a sign of being respected and considered an individual identity. Such children grow up to be more proactive, responsible, and accountable, instead of assuming someone else will make their decisions for them.
Being Over Strict Could Encourage Frequent Lying: If you are too strict about rules and punishments, your child will find ways to escape the consequences, and resort to lying. Living in fear of your reactions, could also lead them to lie, even when they are not at fault, to be on the safer side. Have open conversations on why you lay certain rules, and go easy with the punishments. Often, a friendly approach is more effective than a strict one.
Give Space: You may have the best intentions for your child, and want to know everything about her life, waiting to rescue her in times of crisis and need. However, it’s important that you give your child the space and time to handle situations and emotions on her own, before you decide to jump in. Make sound judgement on when you should get involved and when you shouldn’t. Not giving enough space will make your child dependent, and incapable of taking independent decisions. Your child may also assume your interruption as a sign that you don’t trust her capabilities.
Lighten Up: Having a sense of humor, joking with your children, and a generally light environment every now and then, helps your child be confident in social settings, think creatively, and manage stress. This attitude also helps children not to take everything too seriously, or be too sensitive. However, be sure to draw the line and not let jokes be an excuse to ridicule him or put him down. Such an approach will only damage his self-esteem and confidence.
Don’t Curb Imagination: Sometimes it’s OK for children to draw outside the lines, find shapes in clouds, marvel at ordinary sights, and see beyond what appears. Don’t curb your child’s imagination, or correct her when she lets harmless imaginations take over logic. Children have a more imaginative mind than adults, and letting that imagination grow in a healthy manner, will inspire positivity and creativity within them.
Figure Out The Reasons Before Reacting: Before you lose your cool over your child’s rebellion, tantrums, withdrawals or anger, figure out what is making him react that way. Children often resort to unpleasant behavior, to express inner turmoil. Instead of reacting right away, try figuring out what is troubling the child, or what’s causing the untoward behavior. Have an open conversation, and assure him that you would rather understand, than judge and punish him. It’s the root cause that demands your attention, not the behavioral symptoms.
Customize Conversations: If you want your child to open up about certain subjects, or wish to understand what’s going on in her mind, customize your conversations around her area of interest. Start the conversation around a subject of her liking, and find a way to link it to what you wish she’d open up about. Children may sometimes need pondering to express themselves. The more you encourage your child to open up, the healthier her emotional state will be. So put in a little effort, and open up the gates of conversations and expressions on what truly matters.
Childhood may after all, not be as simple as we assume it to be. Children deal with their own struggles, beliefs, and challenges. The right parenting approaches won’t just make parenting easy for you, they will also help you raise you children into confident, happy adults in the future, who don’t let deep rooted subconscious damage and fears take over their lives. Don’t hesitate to seek for help when needed, be it from loved ones, schools, teachers, or therapists. In the end, all that children need is a little love and understanding, and the assurance that they are going to be OK, be it at home, at school, or in the playground.