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A Polished Parenting Guide That Is Truly Inspirational

A Polished Parenting Guide That Is Truly Inspirational

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    Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Not only is it full-time, but it lasts for years and no qualification can fully prepare you for the responsibilities that come with raising the next generation! However, scientific research offers valuable insight into how we should approach the task of rearing children to be happy adults who contribute to society.

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    1. Praise kids often for their efforts, but not intelligence

    Psychologists at Columbia University have discovered that emphasizing intelligence over effort could have a detrimental effect on a child’s attitude towards work. When you show your child that you value their work ethic and determination rather than their innate capacity for academic achievement, they will be less likely to feel discouraged in the face of setbacks. Children who are told how smart they are don’t benefit from this kind of praise, because they are likely to start worrying about the possibility of failure, which would threaten their status as “the smart one.” Congratulate children for their motivation, concentration and sustained effort instead.

    2. Teach them to be happy on their own

    If you provide your children with a never-ending array of pre-arranged activities and anxiously try to entertain them whenever they complain about being bored, they will not learn how to be happy by themselves. This increases the risk that they will grow up to be insecure adults who rely on other people for contentment. Increasingly, child psychologists are extolling the virtues of allowing children to be bored. According to child psychologist Lyn Fry: “Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy.”

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    3. Use carrots only for things that are really worth it, rather than sticks

    When your child is reluctant to undertake a task or work hard at school, it can be tempting to use carrots (bribes) in an attempt to shape their behavior. For example, you may promise them a material reward for certain grades. However, children need to learn that they cannot expect to be rewarded for undertaking necessary work. If they are over-rewarded, they will grow up with an unhealthy sense of entitlement. Use bribes sparingly.

    4. Planning meaningful activities

    Plan meaningful activities for them only if they’re really interested and still have the energy. It takes a lot of time, effort and sometimes money to put together a program of meaningful activities for a child. Is the payoff worth it? Some psychologists argue that children should be given more unstructured time. This allows them to learn how to entertain themselves and manage their own time. Aim to strike a balance between a few high-quality, educational activities and free time in which nothing specific is planned.

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    5. Don’t avoid talking about sex

    Talking about sex with your child can be embarrassing for you both, but if you value your child’s sexual health and well-being, it’s best to address the facts around sex and reproduction from an early age. Research shows that generally, honest and comprehensive sex education (delivered in age-appropriate language) is the best approach to take. For instance, studies have demonstrated that adolescents who are informed about contraception options and safer sex practices are at less risk of teenage pregnancy. When your child asks you where babies come from or what a particular sexual term means, answer them in a calm, clear way that leaves no room for misunderstanding. Make it clear that sex is a natural, normal part of life and that your child need not be ashamed of asking you questions.

    6. Let them be bored and they’ll learn to be creative

    Creativity is not a trait that some people possess from birth and others lack. The way in which we are raised has a strong impact on how creative we are as adults. Children have no opportunity to contemplate life and come up with new ideas if they are never allowed to be bored. Boredom forces a child to form their own “internal stimulus” that ultimately lays the groundwork for creative thought.

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    Research carried out at the University of Texas shows that when we are bored, we are likely to devise new goals and think of new ways to achieve our aims. This promotes a creative approach to life and a willingness to seek out alternatives when our preferred course of action is thwarted. Therefore, giving your child the opportunity to be bored will help them develop the cognitive skills needed to become creative thinkers and problem-solvers in later life.

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    Jay Hill

    Freelance Writer

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    Published on November 30, 2018

    Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

    Signs of Postnatal Depression And What to Do When It Strikes

    Postpartum depression (PPD) strikes about 15% of women around childbirth.[1] Moreover, this mood disorder is estimated to affect 1% to 26% of new fathers.[2] The causes of which are thought to be linked to hormonal changes, genetics, previous mental illness and the obvious change in circumstance.

    The stigma of mental health – with or without support from family members and health professionals – often deters women from seeking help for their PPD. In this article, I will show you 10 ways to begin overcoming PPD.

    Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

    Postnatal depression is defined as depressive disorder, beginning anytime within pregnancy up to the first year of the child’s life. The symptoms of post natal depression are the same as those of depression. In order to receive a diagnosis from the doctor, 5 symptoms must be shown over a two week period. The symptoms and criteria are:

    • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day or the observation of a depressed mood made by others
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
    • Weight loss or decreased appetite
    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Feelings of restlessness
    • Loss of energy
    • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
    • Loss of concentration or increased indecisiveness
    • Recurrent thoughts of death, with or without plans of suicide
    • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities
    • Low libido
    • Fatigue, decreased energy and motivation
    • Poor self-care
    • Social withdrawal
    • Insomnia or excessive sleep
    • Diminished ability to make decisions and think clearly
    • Lack of concentration and poor memory
    • Fear that you can not care for the baby or fear of the baby
    • Worry about harming self, baby, or partner

    Should you, a friend or your partner be showing any of these signs, I recommend you to seek medical advice.

    Causes of Post Natal Depression

    It is worth noting here that there is a difference between what is commonly known as ‘The Baby Blues’ and post natal depression.

    Postpartum blues, commonly known as “baby blues,” is a transient postpartum mood disorder characterized by milder depressive symptoms than postpartum depression. This type of depression can occur in up to 80% of all mothers following delivery. The Baby Blues should clear within 14 days, if not it is likely an indicator of something more in depth.

    It is not known exactly what causes post natal depression, however there are some correlating factors. These factors have a close correlation and haven’t been shown to cause PPD:

    • Prenatal depression or anxiety
    • A personal or family history of depression
    • Moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms
    • Stressful life events experienced during pregnancy
    • Maternity blues
    • Birth-related psychological trauma
    • Birth-related physical trauma
    • Previous stillbirth or miscarriage
    • Formula-feeding rather than breast-feeding
    • Cigarette smoking
    • Low self-esteem
    • Childcare or life stress
    • Low social support
    • Poor marital relationship or single marital status
    • Low socioeconomic status
    • Infant temperament problems/colic
    • Unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
    • Elevated prolactin levels
    • Oxytocin depletion

    One of the strongest predictors of paternal PPD is having a partner who has PPD, with fathers developing PPD 50% of the time when their female partner has PPD. [3]

    Ways to Overcome Post Natal Depression

    1. Seek Medical Help

    As knowledge of PPD grows, more and more physicians are becoming aware of the indicators and risk factors. This means that health care providers are looking for signs as early as their first prenatal care visit.

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    If you are at risk, letting your provider know early in your pregnancy means that you’ll be given extra support and care throughout the process. It is best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

    If it’s detected late or not at all, the condition may worsen. Experts have also found that children can be affected by a parent’s untreated PPD. Such children may be more prone to sleep disturbances, impaired cognitive development, insecurity, and frequent temper tantrums.

    2. Therapy

    This is the first line of defence against post natal depression and will commonly be prescribed alongside medication. Around 90% of post natal depression cases in women are treated with a combination of the two treatments.

    You don’t need to do anything special to prepare. Your counselor will ask questions about your life, and it’s important you answer honestly. You won’t be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you. Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently, and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better.

    Therapy is personalized for everyone, but women in counselling for postpartum depression often discuss topics including; who you’re feeling, your behaviour, your actions and your life. (If you need immediate support please call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. The toll-free call is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

    3. Medication

    There have been a few studies of medications for treating PPD, however, the sample sizes were small, thus evidence is generally weak.

    Some evidence suggests that mothers with PPD will respond similarly to people with major depressive disorder. There is evidence which suggests that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective treatment for PPD.

    However, a recent study has found that adding sertraline, an SSRI, to psychotherapy does not appear to confer any additional benefit. Therefore, it is not completely clear which antidepressants are most effective for treatment of PPD.

    There are currently no antidepressants that are FDA approved for use during lactation. Most antidepressants are excreted in breast milk. However, there are limited studies showing the effects and safety of these antidepressants on breastfed babies.

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    4. Communication with Partner

    Don’t blame yourself, your partner, close friends or relatives. Life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability can lead to quarrels.

    ‘Having a go’ at your partner can weaken your relationship when it needs to be at its strongest. It can be a huge relief to talk to someone understanding.

    By spending time with your partner doing activities that you both enjoy, like going for a walk, can really help. This change of state, from moving location, can significantly elevate mood whilst providing ‘neutral ground’ in which to open up communication.

    Be honest with your partner and show ways in which they can support you best through this time, even if it’s just talking or letting you have time to go take a shower.

    5. Self Care and Rest

    Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired. It’s common that women are the experts at ‘being busy’ and ‘doing it all’.

    Rest whilst the baby is sleeping, and really take time to prioritise yourself. Throughout life, if you’re constantly giving out energy, you will be left feeling unbalanced. It’s important to become aware of one’s energy and making sure to give yourself energy first, before giving out is imperative.

    Your body has just been through the trauma of the birth, which is very stressful. It therefore needs time to recover so taking time to yourself is important. Things as simple as a cup of tea, or shower or listening to music will really help.

    6. Supplementation (especially DHA)

    St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy available from chemists. There is evidence that it is effective in mild to moderate depression. It seems to work in much the same way as some antidepressants, but some people find that it has fewer side-effects.

    One problem is that St John’s Wort can interfere with the way other medications work. If you are taking other medication, you should discuss it with your doctor. This is very important if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill. St John’s Wort might stop your pill working. This can lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

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    It is also worth noting that fish oil (containing DHA) is being shown to correlate with lower instances of PPD. DHA consumption during pregnancy — at levels that are reasonably attained from foods — has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression,” conclude study researchers led by Michelle Price Judge, PhD, RD, a faculty member at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing.

    7. Movement

    Before starting any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor and find a fully qualified pre and post natal specialist. That being said, there is plenty of movement that can be done prior to ‘hitting the gym’, such as walking.

    Not only does being outside positively benefit you by getting some fresh air and vitamin D. The same is said for your baby, who will likely sleep better once they’ve been outside. Exercise gets your endorphins going, which helps alleviate depression symptoms, It can also get you focused on something for yourself. In an analysis of data from 1996 to 2016, researchers discovered that moms who stayed physically active after birth experienced fewer depressive symptoms.[4] In contrast, one study found women who led a more sedentary lifestyle were, in general, more likely to experience postpartum depression in the first place. [5]

    The type of workout doesn’t matter much. Yoga for pregnant women, stretching, and cardio are essentially equal in terms of making you feel better.

    8. Socializing and Support Groups

    Do go to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. Your health visitor can tell you about groups in your area. You may not feel like going to these groups if your are depressed.

    See if someone can go with you. You may find the support of other new mothers helpful. You may find some women who feel the same way as you do.

    9. Accept Help

    Some cultures believe that the symptoms of postpartum depression or similar illnesses can be avoided through protective rituals in the period after birth. Chinese women participate in a ritual that is known as “doing the month” (confinement) in which they spend the first 30 days after giving birth resting in bed, while the mother or mother-in-law takes care of domestic duties and childcare.

    Whilst this may seem extreme, it’s worth noting that being able to accept help from your friends, partner and family can be extremely beneficial.

    10. Avoid Smoking, Drink and Drugs

    Which may seem common sense, however you may be tempted by the short term ‘fix’.

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    Don’t use alcohol or drugs. They may make you feel better for a short time, but it doesn’t last. Alcohol and drugs can make depression worse. They are also bad for your physical health.

    Final Thoughts

    Most women will get better without any treatment within 3 to 6 months. One in four mothers with PND are still depressed when their child is one-year-old. However, this can mean a lot of suffering.

    PND can spoil the experience of new motherhood. It can strain your relationship with your baby and partner. You may not look after your baby, or yourself, as well as you would when you are well.

    PND can affect your child’s development and behaviour even after the depression has ended. So the shorter it lasts, the better.

    Sometimes there is an obvious reason for PND, but not always. You may feel distressed, or guilty for feeling like this, as you expected to be happy about having a baby. However, PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault.

    It’s never too late to seek help. Even if you have been depressed for a while, you can get better. The help you need depends on how severe your illness is. Mild PND can be helped by increased support from family and friends.

    Featured photo credit: Derek Thomson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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