The Do’s and Don’ts Of Protecting And Guiding Your Children Through Life
Raising children has always been a delicate process. Parents the world over are always striving to strike a balance between protecting their children from harm and encouraging them to learn and grow. If one thing has been proven beyond a doubt over the years, it’s a simple fact that there is no single, uniform parenting style that works — and that’s a good thing. Each individual is different (parents and children alike), and each scenario must be tailored to the circumstances, needs, proclivities, strengths, and interests of those involved.
While there isn’t a “right and wrong” approach to parenting, there are certainly several tenets or guiding principles to parenthood that are worth considering. So, without further ado, here are some of the most common “do’s” and “don’ts” of protecting and guiding your children through their early lives.
Do: Let Your Children Lead at Times
Children who are suppressed and restricted can atrophy over time. Their mental growth can suffer, and they can struggle to develop. Allowing a child to lead the way at times may be painful and often hard to watch, but as a parent, it’s your duty to let them develop the ability to make their own choices.
Don’t: Avoid Structure
While giving your child the reigns at times is important, it’s equally important to provide clear guidelines and expectations. These can vary depending on your situation and parenting style, but they should be in place nevertheless.
For instance, if you’re struggling with a rebellious or defiant teenager, it’s wise to set ground rules and have established consequences that you’re willing to follow through on. This should be in addition to things like calm discussions and active listening, but the structure should be there all the same. This not only helps to teach children about consequences but the knowledge of boundaries also subtly provides a sense of comfort and security.
Do: Always Be Willing to Take Time To Explain
Children are curious, and if you approach parenting with a “because I told you so” mentality, you can quickly squelch that curiosity.
It’s obviously important that children learn to obey you as a parent, For instance, you want them to respond and react when you tell them to get out of the way of a moving car in a parking lot.
However, it’s just as essential that you take the time to explain things to them when they ask. For example, say you teach your children proper handwashing techniques in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As you do so, make sure to take the opportunity to inform them about the virus, sickness in general, how to protect themselves, and why they don’t need to be scared.
Don’t: Leave Your Children With Someone You Don’t Trust
Trusting your sitters is Parenting 101. That’s why it’s critical that you establish a clear system for hiring your nannies. Set expectations, conduct background checks, and have a probation period during which a sitter must prove themselves worthy of your trust.
You can also consider installing a nannycam. While this may seem intrusive, it’s a solution that allows you to keep an eye on your children regardless of who is watching them. Just make sure that installing a hidden camera, in particular, is legal in your neck of the woods.
Do: Get Hands-On When Necessary
There’s a sense of value and admiration for letting children discover and learn on their own. However, there are often points where you need to step in as a parent and get hands-on with the learning experience.
For example, on the one hand, you may encourage your bored kid to play alone as they figure out how to foster creativity. On the other hand, an activity like brushing and flossing their teeth should be more directly instructed.
With that said, once your child has learned the basic activity and you know that they can properly take care of their teeth, your job should once again shift into a coaching role. The important thing is that you understand, as a parent, that you need to be hands-on with the learning process at times while simultaneously avoiding the stigma of excessively micromanaging your children’s lives.
Don’t: Shelter Your Kids from Failure
This one’s a classic, and in the 21st-century, it remains as applicable as ever. If children are propped up by helicopter parents that don’t allow them to fail at times, they will never be able to properly develop and grow.
Failure is an essential part of life, and children must learn to process and overcome failure while they’re children. If they aren’t allowed to do this, they’ll have some tough lessons when they reach adulthood.
Do: Show Gratitude and Express Praise
Finally, it’s important to show gratitude to and express praise for your child on a regular basis. This is often an essential tool in overcoming challenging behaviours and should be applied in a noncontingent reinforcement approach as well as in response to actual actions worthy of praise.
Feeling emotionally supported and encouraged by their parents is a critical function for a child’s health and well-being.
Finding a Balance
While there’s no script to parenting, there are certainly many guidelines that can help a parent hold true to their purpose. It’s important that each parent uses these guidelines to strike a balance between keeping their child safe and allowing them to develop.
The important thing to remember is that, at its core, parenting isn’t a science. It’s an art form. You’ll never be 100% right or wrong with what you do — and that shouldn’t matter anyway. What should take precedence is staying attuned to your child’s needs as you shepherd them through childhood and into adult life.