Parenting is the most important and fundamental part of human development from infancy to adulthood. It provides a solid foundation for an individual’s biological, emotional, social, and intellectual development. A parent’s role begins from giving birth to an infant to nurturing and raising the child into being an adult. This process of parenting is quite complex and provides the blueprint to the child.
According to psychologist Freud, the way parents attend to the child’s needs and desires determine the overall personality of the individual. Parenting also determines how well the individual can adjust to their environment and cope with difficulties in life. Coping with difficulties in life requires an individual to be hopeful to overcome them and also by trusting the world around them.
According to Erik Erikson’s first stage of psychosocial development, the early parenting styles or patterns (from birth to 18 months) influence the child’s emotional and social development. It is after 18 months that children begin to explore the environment and also become more interactive with others. It is then that mirroring and idealization come into play in the parent-child relationship (Heinz Kohut). Mirroring and idealizing influence how individuals view themselves, others around, and the world.
In our busy and buzzing life, stress has become an inevitable part of our daily routine. So much that, we mostly stay in fight or flight mode and react unknowingly. This can have an aversive impact on relationships, the especially parent-child relationships where the child mirrors the same on his/her future relationships.
Hence, parenting is a powerful tool for raising a successful human being and five steps for healthy parenting are:
- Being Present with the child – Being present implies being present both physically and mentally with your child. This means to understand and prioritize your child’s needs over other things. Due to our hectic schedules, we tend to spend more time on laptops/phones even when we are with our children. We know that in daily life it might become a bit difficult. However, as parents, we all can set a time for about 45-60 minutes every day with our children and be completely being present with him/them.
- Empathy – Empathy is most important in parents – child relationship. It requires openness by listening, understanding, and accepting your children as who they are. Viewing them as separate individuals allows us as parents to respect their feelings, opinions and enhance our sense of autonomy in our children.
- Respect – Treating children with respect makes them learn how to treat others with respect as well. Sometimes it gets difficult for parents to keep up with this. With their child’s curious questions, picky eating habits, and other concerning behaviors, it becomes challenging for the parents to maintain and treat them with respect. If parents show disrespect by hitting, mocking, or using bad language with their own children – this will result in children showing similar behavioral patterns and would become aggressive with others. However, if we try, we can succeed in establishing a framework for treating others with respect and kindness.
- Setting boundaries – Studies show that setting boundaries with children have proved to be healthy for them. It not only regulates self-control and self-direction in children but also provides them with a sense of independence. When we discipline children by applying rules they will like to lead a disciplined life even as adults. Setting boundaries for children helps them to regulate their own lives mindfully later on. It is also a way to connect with our children/adolescents. But, always remember harsh discipline like hitting is not a healthy way.
- Avoiding too much or too little affection and attention – Studies reveal that over pampering and neglecting your child, both have proven to be unhealthy pattern or style of parenting. Neglecting your child’s needs or rejecting or invalidating your child can cause a lot of disturbances psychologically, mentally, and even biologically within the child. On the other hand, over pampering your child materialistically or even emotionally can cause a lot of confusion in the child and will have an adverse effect on the child’s development. If we base our parenting style on wisdom rather than power and also be consistent, we can do a better job of parenting.
Mindful parenting means being aware of your actions, thoughts, and emotions and accordingly responding to your child’s moves/moods and other needs. Sometimes, we can lose track and react abruptly to our children rather than responding mindfully. In such harsh circumstances, we need to remember to pause and take three deep breathes and quickly revise the above given five steps in our mind. If we are able to practice daily, we will surely be satisfied and the results can be seen in our child’s overall development.
Coauthor: Kankam Khosla (email@example.com)