Parenting strategy depends or is affected by broadly three factors- 1) the parents’ own upbringing, 2) the vision and values of the parents and 3) situations arising from the current environment of the child.
When a child is born parents do have a certain vague picture of what kind of a person they would like their child to grow up to. It is difficult to define a strategy for life which is affected a lot by the changing environment, but parents do unconsciously follow a set pattern to raise children. Parenting mostly comes naturally taking cue from our own parents’ style of bringing us up, shaping our values and personality and from what we learn from our own experiences. Every parent wishes the best for their children and so whatever they do they do for a good result, for a good future of the child. Still you need to have a certain amount of clarity in your mind regarding how you want to raise your child. Otherwise, there is so much information floating all around from your neighbors, from media, from market, sometimes it gets confusing. You naturally want everything for the child. But too much of anything and everything may in the long run do more harm than good, by hampering a natural personality growth of the child. Therefore it is better to first set rules for yourself as to how you will shape, rather help, groom your child’s personality.
Some strategies which are mostly beneficial and are worth following in all cases are discussed below-
1) Career options- Discuss and decide about your career before the child is born. Make up your mind whether you want to stay at home for the baby or do you want to continue with your job. If you prefer to work, then it needs to be planned out very carefully between the spouses. Plan out matters about the role of grandparents, crèche, baby sitters, division of the added responsibilities between the spouses as they handle their job, household and a child. If you want to stay at home for the baby (lucky baby!), look into your finances. Consider matters like, can you run the household, with a baby, comfortably with the income of one spouse, or may be you can take up a part time job, with a little help from domestic helpers. It is always wise to plan these things out before the arrival of the baby who is certainly going to cast a magic spell on you as soon as it arrives.
Once the baby has arrived, we now need to think about what- to- do and what-not-to-do, to help the child grow physically and mentally healthy.
2) Spend time with the child- The child should feel a strong safe emotional base in you as a parent right from infancy. Spend maximum time possible with your new born as he begins recognizing the people around him. Develop a strong bond with the child by talking to him, playing with him and responding to his baby language. When the infant feels safe and comfortable with the parent he gradually develops affinity with other people around. The more time you spend with the child the more you know her likings, dislikes, aptitude etc. The child too feels a strong emotional base to grow happily.
3) Socialize- Help the child to mix and mingle with people. Take him to friend’s place, parties, parks etc. where you meet your friends. This way the child will know that people other than his parents too are important. Socializing helps in overcoming shyness and teaching social ettiquetes. As you mix with people and the child too begins making friends, explain to him from time to time, in a simple way how to judge people, what kind of behavior is good and socially acceptable and what is not, who is good and who is wrong, etc.
4) Follow a routine- Follow a timely routine right from the infant stage of your baby. Meal time, sleeping time, bathing time etc. By the time the child grows into a toddler she should know what is her play time, meal time, study time, TV time and going-to-bed time. If a routine is made and followed from the beginning the child accepts it comfortably as she grows. It becomes a healthy habit for her without knowing.
5) Be a role model- Don’t expect your child to religiously follow your orders of going to bed at eight or ten, while you frequent late night movies and parties. How can you scold your kid for too much TV, when you are crazy about your daily soap or cricket match? If we want our kids to have a healthy lifestyle, we have to lead one ourselves, because parents’ are the first natural teachers from whom the children copy and learn most.
6) Nurture hobbies- As the child grows, observe her aptitude for various activities and encourage her to pursue those she enjoys doing. Help the child to develop interesting, creative hobbies. Creative activities encourage the child’s curiosity and the desire to learn.
7) Keep the child away from negative aspects of life- Negative means anything that can have a bad/harmful effect on the child’s emotional and physical development. It may be anything like fighting with your partner in front of the child, speaking disrespectfully about someone, violence and other adult scenes in the media, etc. Allow him to first to explore the beauties of life and nature, till he matures enough to understand the harsh facts of life.
8) Encourage and appreciate- Positive response from adults has a stronger impact than negative ones. So make it a point always to appreciate the child whenever he does something good. If he commits some mistake, explain it to him and show him the right way. If he behaves badly tell him so firmly and warn him, instead of straight away resorting to spanking. Love, patience and appreciation have a more beneficial impact on the child.
9) Always remind yourself to be patient- Parenting requires tremendous patience. Writing alphabets or adding two and two is simple for us, but not for the kid. If we scold them for not being able to do ‘such a simple thing’, they will get frustrated and loose interest in learning. It is natural to loose one’s temper while managing the house, job and a kid, but nothing is impossible. Just keep reminding yourself, you will never pass on your stress to the innocent child, you will not loose patience and try to teach and explain the child as many times and in as many ways possible, with love.
10) Never compare- ‘If you want your child to reach the stars, do not show him the other stars, but show him the way to reach the stars’. If the child comes second or third in some competition, the most common adult reaction will be-‘Try to be first next time’. We forget to appreciate the fact that he stood second and that too required quiet an effort. First appreciate that effort. Second, instead of criticizing and blaming the kid for the mistakes due to which he is second and not first, take it on yourself to work on the weak points of the child. Tell him- ‘let’s see where you went wrong.’ Involve him too and then work on them together. This way the child knows you love him anyway and so he will be more willing to work harder himself. Strategize in a way so as to promote self motivation in the child.
There can be several parenting strategies for different situations. We have to learn and flow with time and situations. The word strategy makes parenting a bit scary; something like a war to be won! Please don’t take it like that. Parenting is quite a fun and a learning experience. It is very common for kids to say no if you say yes, they will say there if you say here, they will say up if you say down. You have to apply your brain then and there and say the opposite of what you actually want the child to do. Parenting is tiring and funny at the same time. It can lead to peals of laughter right amidst a serious session of scolding too. So enjoy as you strategize!