POSITIVE PARENTING TIPS FOR HEALTHY CHILD DEVELOPMENT
From the moment they are birthed into this world, your child sees you as their greatest role model. So, it is no wonder they latch onto things their parents say and do, and they mimic those actions and words – whether we want them to or not!
To help give your child the best chance for healthy development as they grow up, here are four parenting tips involving a positive mindset.
1. MASTER THE ART OF DISTRACTION
When they are babies, toddlers and even those heading into preschool, often the best way to stop a child from engaging in negative behaviours is by distracting them. As opposed to anger, this positive tactic is quick and effective. It provides your child with something else to focus on without making any negative associations that may lead to repeat offending or even poor behaviours down the track.
Remember, not everything has to be a black-and-white lesson. Sometimes just a simple distraction is enough to stop your child from doing something you don’t like – without resorting to an emotional response.
2. MOTIVATE YOUR CHILD WITH HUMOUR AND PLAYFULNESS
Children will be children, and part of their mental growth is allowing themselves to be funny and playful. You can help them explore these exciting new emotions by motivating them and encouraging their silly side. Letting your child develop a good sense of humour from a young age will help them emotionally far more than you might think – and as they grow up, their ‘style’ of humour and playfulness will change. While toddlers appreciate physical humour, pre-schoolers love the wackiness of the impossible – like a dog that quacks like a duck!
Just make sure you and your child know where to draw the line. Boundaries are just as important during ‘silly time’ as they are when learning or eating dinner, for example.
3. TEACH THEM HEALTHY HABITS
When you think about ‘healthiness’, your first thought is probably what you feed your child. While a balanced diet is essential for good childhood development, you also need to consider other ways they need to be healthy.
Screen time, for example, should be limited to no more than 1 hour per day – and what they watch should be engaging and educational. It is also important for children to play with age-appropriate toys and play equipment, and you can join in on the fun with them to encourage group activities. Finally, make sure your child is getting the right amount of sleep for their age. For toddlers and pre-schoolers, they should be sleeping around 12 out of every 24 hours, with a daytime nap that will get shorter as they age.
4. LEARN HOW TO BECOME A GOOD ‘EMOTION COACH’
As your child transitions from toddler to pre-schooler and beyond, they will experience lots of new and complex emotions. And because their brains are still growing, they sometimes won’t know how to manage these feelings. You as their parent can help them by being a good ‘emotion coach’. This simply means acknowledging what they are feeling and teaching them words to describe their emotions (e.g., ‘I feel guilty about what I did’ or ‘I’m jealous of his toys’). Then, after things have calmed down, you can have a chat to them about how they can start to self-regulate their emotions in future.
The most important thing though, is to be a good emotional role model for your child. They will follow your lead, so if you are able to manage your own emotions then that will be the best example for them.
No parent is perfect, and there will be days when it feels like you are struggling to be a good role model but not getting anywhere. That’s okay! The key is to understand that parenting is a journey – so long as you arm yourself with positive strategies, you’ll be doing the best for your child.