Parents fundamentally shape children’s lives and everyday experiences, which has a major impact on their cognitive, academic and socio-emotional development. They also have a major impact on children’s health and well-being.
Over the last half century the world has changed fundamentally, causing a shift in expectations and experiences of how parents raise their children. The 21st Century parent has to compete with multiple sources of information, both human and nonhuman, (e.g. children’s peers, global TV channels, electronic gadgets, internet, smart phones, computers, social networking and the ever-present Google) We are in an information overload phase in shaping the minds, values, and beliefs of children. Parenting now has become more challenging and demanding than it had ever been before. Parents often feel enormous pressure to help their children succeed, whether it is in making friends at school or raising their child to become resilient and ultimately, a confident self-reliant young adult.
The biggest challenge of parenting is to accept that we are facing a world that is very different from the one we grew up in. Parents need to recognize the challenges and opportunities children face early. They need to pay more attention to their child’s world. They need to take care of the contemporary 3Rs―Reading the child’s environment,Regulating their behaviour and Redirecting their energies.
- Learning to read the child’s environment, needs and intentions, recognize the challenges, conflicts or opportunities their children are presented with, know who and what influences them and know how all this affects their performance.
- Helping their children to regulate their behavior and develop their children’s emotional control. By teaching emotional control, parents can learn how children slip into negative mood states —which, if left uncontrolled, can impact their success, color the decisions they make and the behavior they demonstrate as well as the responses they may seek in their world.
- Guiding the child in redirecting his or her energy. Having the children engaged in games and physical activities is one of the best ways to channel their excess energy in the right direction. Physical activities help to keep away the boredom and laziness that children are otherwise prone to developing today in the world of technology.
As a parent knowing what skill set to have and how to apply it is a good starting point to effective parenting. The most central factor is time. Every one of the parental skills has one thing in common – time. Spending as much time as possible in your child’s company is an opportunity to invest in all his or her basic needs.
As we are all aware that there are no strict guidelines to parenting, still we can sum up a few important tips of parenting in this 21st century. Children have some basic needs that parents need to provide to make sure that they have the best chance to thrive and be happy.
- Listen. Observing and listening with attention and understanding let you know what and when your child needs something or has a problem to solve. Encourage your child to express his or her emotions and thoughts.
- Honesty and transparency. Tell your child your feelings and expectations and encourage him or her to do the same. This habit will go a long way to prevent conflicts from developing.
- Problem-solving. Engage with your child on a win-win basis and always be fair and objective. Be careful not to let emotions get the better of you. Guide your child to solve his or her problems as much as possible. Ask him or her to suggest solutions rather than prescribe your ideas.
- Respect. Respect for oneself and others is the hallmark of healthy relationships. Share your values with your child and explain what the purpose is. A person who behaves accordingly gains the trust of others
- Emotional support. Being accepted and recognized are important aspects for children to develop trust, respect, and self-esteem. These qualities are the basis of a composed and independent mindset.
- Structure. Routine and structure are the bedrock of consistent development. Having rules and boundaries provide a child clarity of his or her role and what is expected of them.
- Recognize, praise, and give positive feedback. Children thrive on praise and it reinforces positive behavior. Choose constructive feedback over negativity and criticism. Most people, and especially children, view being criticized as a form of rejection, which can develop into a consistent fear and lack of confidence.
- Demonstrate and teach social skills. Social skills such as empathy, respect, politeness, behavioral and emotional control are best shown than talked about. Communicate openly and often. Make a point to ask your children questions about their day and experiences. Acknowledge their emotions and encourage them to talk about it.
- Set a good example. If you expect consistency, positivity, and respect from your child, you have to show the same values. Kids learn by imitating good role models. If you made a mistake, take responsibility and admit it.
- Make decisions about responsible digital practices together. Talk with your child about ways to behave safely and responsibly in the digital world, how to judge the accuracy and bias of online news, and set expectations about digital devices.
To conclude: There is no right way to raise your children. There is no hard and fast rule regarding what will work in your home, with your family, your child’s unique personality, the circumstances you are in, the luck or challenges that come your way. No matter how little you have materially, you can raise an excellent human being if all else falls into place. Consistently teaching your values will usually result in your children having the same values but not always. Because above and beyond everything else, our children come to us with inherent qualities that we cannot specially order, request, or cross off a list as undesirable.