Parenting Young Kids: 3 Do's and Don'ts
We all dream to be that perfect parent, but growing up under the influence of Asian tiger parenting, it gives us conflicting ideas on how to raise our children positively. One of the most tricky thing about parenting young kids is that we unconsciously become the tiger parent (someone you wish you don't become) to our kids and lose ourselves in the process. And when children start acting out, we just punish and discipline them like how our parents did - we yell and spank them. It's not because we want to, but because we simply don't know the right way to parent our kids.
Don't worry. Here, we'll discuss the Do's and Don'ts to help your child grow up positively without having to lose yourself in the process.
DON'T YELL AND SPANK
Children having temper tantrums are normal, and it is an important part of growing up. Children act out because they do not know what's right and how to communicate effectively. If we only focus on punishing their mistakes and bad behaviours, then we are not playing the role of a parent, which is to guide and teach.
DO'S: BE AN EFFECTIVE GUIDE
Be a loving and supportive parent by guiding children toward the right direction. We should model the right behaviour so children can learn from us. Teach them what's right to do instead of punishing what's wrong. For example, when children get angry and start hitting or throwing, we can guide them to talk nicely and think of solutions to their problems. "Your brother took your toy. I know you're upset. It must have been difficult for you. But hitting or throwing is not going to make you feel better. Why don't we try to think of how we can solve this problem without hurting anyone?"
DON'T SPOON-FEED YOUR KIDS
Every parent wants to be there for their kids 24/7 because we want the best for them. We want to keep them safe and happy all the time. But the truth is, we can't always be there for them every step of the way. We can't control their every movement and actions. And most importantly, we can't always protect them from mistakes and failures because children have to fail to learn.
DO'S: LET KIDS EXPLORE AND BE INDEPENDENT
As young as two years old, children are capable of making choices and decisions for themselves. Give your child the freedom and control to choose his own snacks, clothes, and activities. Let children take part in simple house chores (laundry, bed sheets, setting up table) and daily self-care routines (dressing up, shower). You can also include them in simple problem-solving matters like how to cook noodles, how to clean up dirty tables, etc. Provide children with the opportunity to learn, to be independent, and to expand their critical and dynamic thinking.
DON'T DOWNPLAY EMOTIONS/FEELINGS
Do you find yourself saying "don't cry!" or "stop crying now!" to your kids? If you do, I'm going to ask you to stop and reconsider. When we deny and ignore our children's emotional expression, we are downplaying their feelings. We are indirectly telling them that showing negative emotions are wrong and that they are not allowed to have negative feelings. But emotions, be it positive and negative, are part of our body's physiological response to our environment. It is not something we can just switch it off. If we adults can't even switch off anger and sadness (yelling and spanking kids when we're angry), we shouldn't expect our children to do it too.
DO'S: TEACH THEM TO RECOGNISE AND REGULATE EMOTIONS
Instead of asking children to shut off their negative emotions, we can guide them to identify, recognise, and understand their feelings. Children's emotional part of the brain is still developing, and they need lots of guidance and support from us to help them get through these overwhelming emotional roller-coaster journeys.
For example, "I can see that you're really sad right now. It is normal to have this feeling, and it is okay to cry. I'm going to stay here with you, and we can talk about it when you're ready. Would you like a hug?"
Another example, "I can see that you're angry right now. I want you to know that I'll be here if you need me. When you're ready, we can talk about it. Take your time."
Often, when children are throwing tantrums, they feel lost and confused. It is important for us to give them assurance and support in those challenging times.