The definition of the word Family according to the Oxford English Dictionary is “A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit”, but in reality this is no longer, the true make up of a family, as family units have seen significant changes over time. From the single parent and extended family unit to the child headed and kinship family unit, this has changed the traditional family unit forever.
Living in the “Now” generation of instant expectation and accessibility, being a parent is no easy task as one does not get to click an app to download the parenting guide into your head when you first become a parent. Parenting is a skill, which need to be learnt, embraced and put into practice.
As a parent or a future parent, have you stopped to ask yourself “What kind of parent you are going to be, what kind of family I am going to raise?” This is a provocative question, as your own personal history, childhood experiences and current circumstances will play a pivotal role in how you will parent and fulfil your role in the family.
Your child’s development progress has many stages and each development stage has a specific set of criteria to bring out the best in your child. In the time ahead, we will explore the many ways you can communicate, motivate and encourage your baby, toddler, tween and teen as they grow and mature into young adulthood. We will discuss behaviour management, stress management and parenting, grief and bereavement, safety in and out of the home and many more items to develop skilled parenting and make families stronger.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
As a soon to be parent, some of you may have attended a prescribed pre-natal class but how many of you took Parenting Skills Classes? Parenting is a demanding job, and requires a great deal of knowledge before it gets easier. Think about how you were raised, some things were great but some things fell short and left you frustrated and unprepared. You have a responsibility to your child to make changes and improve on the way you will raise your children and family.
Start by realising you need, want and believe you can change. Open your mind to a new way of thinking, change your habits and leave the past behind you. Ask for help and advice from friends and family, it takes a village to raise a child and you do not have to do it all by yourself. Having a support system you can count on to help you as a parent is vital. For some it is a spouse, grandparents or siblings and for others its neighbours, churches, community organizations and friends. As a parent, you are not a superhero, even if your children expect you to be. Just like your children need rest, nourishment and encouragement, so do you. A burnt out parent is no good for any family. Your support system must be there to give this down time, to give you guidance when needed and help out when you feel stressed and need a break. Asking for help is what brings a family and community closer together, and by allowing other to help, you also give them purpose.
Do not be afraid to fail at a task, there are no perfect parents, but a good parent will pick themselves up and try again, until eventually they succeed more time than they fail.
VALUE YOUR CHILD
To help your child to develop a health self-image, they need to feel that they are valued. Your child’s development falls into your parental responsibilities and must be made a serious priority right from infancy.
Your child’s development is closely linked to your parenting. If a child’s basic needs are not met, their growth and mental development may be distorted or delayed in various ways.
The 7 basic needs all children require, are Love, Shelter, Protection, Food, Appropriate Clothing, Healthcare and Education. Sound simple enough, but for many some of these 7 needs, can be a daily struggle for parents to provide. Remember “it takes a Village’, don’t be afraid to ask for help to ensure you do have access to these 7 basic needs.
You can gauge your child’s development by using Development Milestones, which you can find by just Googling online, and keeping a chart of their progress…and yes, you can even use a doorframe to keep track of their growth in height.
As your children grow, you can creatively communicate and play with them both verbally and non-verbally. In addition, remember good communication is a two-way street…talking and listening.
Only about 7% of our communication is made up of words, as tone and body language play a pivotal role in how our children interpret our message to them.
In order to bring out the best in our children, we need to communicate effectively with them, as they grow and develop. Babies rely on hearing you talk and sing, your smile, holding them close, whilst toddlers need are more mobile and have the need to explore independently. Tell them stories, with accompanying pictures and when pointing to objects, say the objects name. By the time your child is of school going age, you can talk and reason with them, they will still need you to read to them, play games and listen to them, let them tell you their own stories and above all else be patient and spend time with them.
As they become teenagers, you should take interest in their hobbies, music and get to know who their friends are. Even with their mood swings and tendency to want pick a fight with you, they are still your children, so do not take it too personally. This phase will end, in 3-5 years…
Look out for our next instalment on Great Parenting…..
Ref: Give a Child a Family, Early Childhood Development, The Second Step Org