I was confident that I would be able to manage my baby when I was pregnant. As they say, you can never be fully prepared to parent a child until it happens. I discovered this when my son responded emotionally to situations more than other children his age. I was prepared for tantrums and naughtiness... To manage my sensitive child, I began researching other parenting styles.

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Sarah Ockwell Smith’s Gentle Parenting Book was recommended to me. Gentle Parenting encourages children to accept themselves and helps them become the best version of themselves. It’s mindful Parenting. It focuses on the child’s needs and is mindfully responsive to them.

It is built on the four pillars of Empathy, Respect and Understanding, and Boundaries. Gentle Parenting believes that tantrums are not caused by a child being manipulative but rather because they are under stress. Instead of punishing or reacting harshly to such behavior, you must understand its root cause so that you can avoid and correct future instances.

It is important to remember that children are not miniature adults. Children are still developing their emotional maturity. Expecting them to behave in the same way as adults, such as sharing toys and sitting still in public settings, is not something they can do. Parents should set their expectations according to the child’s age. This does not mean that parents should accept every child’s behavior. This means being clear about what is important and reminding children about those boundaries. Gentle Parenting states that children are a reflection of adults’ actions. We should model the behavior we want our kids to exhibit and be positive role models for them.

Every time I turn on the TV, I’m shocked at how much early learning is imposed upon children. Every parent expects their child to be the next Steve Jobs. Even before learning their ABCs, children enroll in coding classes. Perhaps we parents must remember one thing: let the children be themselves. When entering a toy store, you will first ask, “Is it for a boy or a girl?” What does this mean? A boy can have hours of fun in his pretend kitchen while a girl can play with her toy car. Why is the color palette for girls full of all kinds of pinks and princesses while that for boys is filled with reds, blacks, and superheroes?

They have a lot of creativity and the ability to imagine, at least for the first few years. They don’t automatically fall for the preconceived notions that have become part of their mindset. While it is not easy to get our children away from these biases, it is possible. Although learning the ABCs is essential, it is more important for children to interact with their environment. This stimulates their curiosity and provides them with the best learning opportunities. My son should be free to be himself, and I hope that parents and children will do the same.

Naomi Aldort, the author, says, “Children do not need us to mold them. They need us only to respond to their uniqueness.”

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