Parenting young children is not always easy. The key is to stay simple, consistent, and loving. Promoting a positive environment is easier than you think. Below are five ways that you can do so.
Hitting and Violence
Children need to learn early that violence is not going to help them thrive. Adult violence is very frightening and unhealthy for a child. Simultaneously, it teaches the child that violence is okay. It often sets the child up for delinquency, drug addiction, jail and rehabilitation time. Preventing that is simpler than you think.
According to Lemon Lime Adventures, “research has found that it is not the amount of time that you spend with your child(ren) that counts. It's what you do with it that does. If you are showing them that you love them, making sure that they're properly supervised at all times, and sticking to your boundaries, you're doing fine.”
Making tolerance a core part of your parenting is essential. Teaching your kids that everyone makes mistakes and owning up to yours teaches them the value of seeing their own imperfection and accepting themselves as they are. Never accept things like name-calling, belittlement, manipulation to encourage violence, etc. Also, never hesitate to discuss the harmfulness of the violence that they do see.
In general, teach them that it's okay to feel the way that they do. That it's always okay to take time out and/or to discuss their feelings using "I" statements. But that it is never okay to be aggressive towards other people. If they're in the early years, they may not be able to name their emotions yet. Hence, it's essential to help them to identify and navigate through them.
Most of us think of tantrums as frightening at worst. However, they can turn very dangerous if not promptly addressed. They can even become as dangerous as the child grows older.
According to Child Mind Institute, “tantrums are very common in toddlers because they don't have the verbal abilities to express emotions. At the same time, they're also discovering their power to make changes in their environment. This is the point at which it's essential to help them identify and navigate through emotions.”
Tantrums happen for many reasons. For example, being upset when a sibling runs away with one of their toys or even being hungry.
The best thing you can do is remain calm, acknowledge the child's feelings, and give him or her the space to ride it out. Then come back and talk to your child about how he or she can be more constructive next time. Consistency is key.
According to The Recovery Village, “fentanyl and other opioids account for the greatest proportion of 21st-century prescription drug addictions in the U.S. Prescription opioid deaths skyrocketed at the turn of the century, and within two years, opioid overdose caused more deaths than cocaine and heroin addiction.”
Using substances as a coping mechanism starts early in life. Once using a substance becomes a habit, it changes the brain's neural structure very quickly. The brain does not discriminate when it comes to perceived pleasures. It involves a large release of the neurotransmitter, dopamine into the nucleus accumbens, the brain's pleasure center. Addiction continually provides that flood but over time, more and more of the substance is needed to do so. This is what leads to addictions and death.
This is also why it's essential to teach your child about healthy coping strategies and appropriate rewards early. Those who turn to addiction often do so because no one taught them about the dangers of it.
Comparing Themselves to Others
Comparisons can be a positive motivator. However, if your child is constantly pointing out inequalities, it can turn into a downward spiral very fast. It can also lead to low self-esteem and clinical depression.
The best thing you can do here is to remind your child of how to use what he or she does have to his or her own advantage. According to Educatall, “it’s important for parents to avoid comparing children among themselves. Highlight their individual successes. It’s important to Build children's self-esteem gradually, daily even. Help children discover their abilities, recognize their successes, and celebrate their victories.” For example, if it is his or her appearance that your child is comparing, quickly remind him that you think that he or she does have a good appearance. However, also be quick to remind them of their strengths.
This teaches them that there are more important things in life than appearance.
If it's not having the latest piece of technology, simply be quick to remind him or her that having the latest of everything in life is not necessarily better. That it's less wasteful to use what they have until it no longer works.
Caving to Peer PressureHopefully, you’re already emphasizing that poor choices can lead to bad consequences. You also need to show your child that you believe in his or her ability to make wise decisions. This includes their ability to make friends who are good for them. Also, instead of warning your children from friends, encourage them to be good role models to their friends instead.
When you forbid something, you just make it more appealing. You can even let your child use you as the “bad guy”. According to Love and Logic, “don't fall into the trap of fighting a losing battle over who your children choose as friends. Parent-child clashes over this issue actually drive kids away from their parents and the family they need so badly. How many American teens hit the streets each year because of the resentment these fights create? Help kids understand that parents will love them regardless of whom they choose as your friends." Suggest that when they are uncomfortable that they back out by saying you freaked out the last time that he or she did something else that was risky.
The list above is not an exclusive one. These are simply ways to help your child to stay on the healthiest track that he or she possibly can. Again, being loving, consistent, and simple is always key. Kids are more likely to thrive if you set healthy examples by your own habits.