Many parents struggle with problems in raising their children, problems that can be approached and solved in such a manner that it will benefit both parties involved long-term. Thousands of books have been written on how to be a successful parent and theories have been developed by educational psychologists and pediatricians around the world, so that it is fair to say that no matter the problem you are facing, someone somewhere has already found a viable and efficient solution to it. The issues that we talk about in the following paragraphs are commonly a source of great distress and frustration for parents, but usually have a relatively simple answer.
1. Bedtime struggle
All children go through what it is known as the “no” phase, whether it involves following rules, eating vegetables or going to bed at a certain hour. The key to getting over this phase successfully is treating it with maximum attention and patience. For example, bedtime struggle usually occurs when the child is overexcited because of the activity that he/she was engaged in just before bedtime. Thus, as a rule parents should interdict over stimulating TV shows or animated cartoons, and also playing video games just before bedtime. One trick to get your child into the mood for bedtime is taking them out for a breath of fresh air and a walk. If they have a favorite stuffed animal make sure they have it and always leave the lights on if the toddler is afraid of the dark.
2. The fussy eater
Picky eating is a normal phase in every child’s developing years and it is usually found in toddlers of 2 up to 4 years old. However, an abrupt change in a toddler’s eating habits can be due to a number of reasons and probably the most notable is that children do not easily embrace change; they actually greatly enjoy routine because of the safety feeling it offers. The easiest way to approach the fussy eating problem is by taking it step by step. Parents can start by introducing mashed veggies into their child’s favorite dish and by making home-made fruit juices to quench the thirst. It is also important to involve the child in the food making process which is a great opportunity for them to explore the texture, smell and taste of certain ingredients.
3. How to help develop a child’s self-esteem
Psychological research shows that the input a child receives during the first five years of life are paramount to his/her later emotional and cognitive development. Thus, the fragile self-esteem structure that a child has is greatly influenced by the type of parenting style applied during the formative years. To this end, parents can help their child to build a positive self-esteem that will later on benefit him/her in adult life by considering just a few aspects. First of all, it is important that parents find the time to play with their children, to pay them attention and listen to what they want to communicate. They also should avoid harsh and indiscriminate punishing, and just accept that mistakes happen; they can also be positive role models. And last, but not least, they should be supportive and encourage new experiences.
4. The importance of early reading
Developmental studies show that the sooner a child is exposed to the written language the richer his/her vocabulary will be later on. This fact goes against all traditional schooling programs and the truth is that not many parents expose their children to the written language before age 6 or 7. Besides getting one-on-one time with their parents, the child benefits greatly from early reading aloud because the activity helps with developing cognitive skills, the memory and with building motivation, and it encourages curiosity.
5. Managing your child’s fears and anxieties
Many children develop irrational fears and feel anxious about things that in reality are not as scary as they believe them to be. A parent’s primary job is to help the child address and suppress these fears, because if they are not treated with the corresponding importance the chances are that they will be carried out through adulthood and cause psychological distress. For example, the commonly found fear of darkness or of the “boogie man” can be addressed by encouraging the child to talk about it freely. Parents can also help their children gradually confront the fear, but always on their own terms and when they feel ready to do that.