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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

    Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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    Published on May 21, 2021

    Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

    Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

    Bedtimes for kids might be one of the most challenging parts of the day. Parents are tired and ready to relax, while kids of all ages seem to find extra energy and want nothing to do with sleep. One more story, one more trip to the bathroom, and one more question quickly make for a late-night, and no one gets the rest they need.

    If this happens often, you might start wondering if you and your child are getting the proper amount of sleep and how to make bedtime easier. Why is it so crucial for your child to get enough sleep? What does sleep deprivation look like? How do you improve bedtimes for kids?

    How Sleep Impacts Your Child’s Health

    Whether young or old, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. There are many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep while not getting enough can have negative consequences. How does it impact your child?[1]

    • Brain Function – Sleep is linked to certain brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and cognition. These all impact a child’s behavior and academic success.
    • Weight – Sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to regulate food intake, making overeating more likely.
    • Physical Performance – Sleep impacts a person’s physical abilities. Proper rest means better performance, concentration, energy, mental clarity, and faster speed.
    • Physical Health – There are many ways sleep promotes health. Sleep heals the body but also helps prevent disease and health issues. Getting proper rest will regulate blood pressure, help prevent heart disease, reduce chances of sleep apnea, reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and lower risk of weight gain.
    • Improve Mental Health – A lack of sleep has a negative impact on mood and social and emotional intelligence. A child not getting proper sleep is more likely to experience depression, lack empathy and be unaware of other people’s emotions and reactions.

    Sleep, Risky Behavior, and Teens

    Studies found that teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when they are sleep-deprived. They’ll have problems regulating their mood, making them more short-tempered, aggressive, and impulsive. Their inability to self-regulate can even look like the symptoms of ADHD.[2]

    Sleep deprivation becomes hazardous when teens are driving. The impulsiveness and risk-taking, along with exhaustion, put them at a higher risk for accidents. In fact, driving tired is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08.[3]

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    You can see why sleep is so essential to everyone’s health, but how much is needed? What do pediatricians recommend? Is it the same for all ages?

    Sleep Recommendations From Pediatricians

    Sleep requirements vary by age. It won’t be the same for every individual. Some people find that they need more sleep than others.

    Here is a basic guideline of what pediatricians now recommend:[4]

    • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
    • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
    • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
    • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
    • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

    Increase the amount of sleep if your child isn’t thriving on the recommended amount.

    Signs Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

    There are ways to tell if your child is getting adequate sleep beyond the usual grumpiness. Here are specific things to watch out for:[5]

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    • Excessive sleepiness during the day
    • Difficulty waking up on time
    • Hyperactivity
    • Depression
    • Inattention
    • Mood swings
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Irritability
    • Impatience
    • Impulse control

    As you can see, prolonged lack of sleep can cause relational problems and hinder your child’s ability to do well in school. What can you do if you realize your child is not getting enough sleep? How can you improve bedtimes for your kids?

    How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

    Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

    For Babies

    Most people think they have to let their baby “cry it out” at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method—or gentle sleep training—is just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress.[6] What is gentle sleep training?

    Gentle Sleep Training

    This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

    1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

    Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that’s not too early. A child that isn’t tired will only fight sleep.

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    Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it’s later than you’d prefer. You’ll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you’ll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

    2. Sleep With Parental Presence

    With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less.[7]

    Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

    More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

    You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

    Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime:[8]

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    • Help set their “internal clock” by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
    • Block blue light exposure.
    • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
    • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
    • Don’t force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
    • Avoid late afternoon naps
    • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
    • Feed baby right before bed.
    • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

    For Elementary-Aged Children

    It’s easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it’s never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child’s sleep.

    These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period.[9]

    • Offer them a nutritious snack.
    • Bathe them.
    • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
    • Read them a story.
    • Sing them a song.
    • Cuddle or massage them.
    • Talk about the day.

    For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

    For Teens

    They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They’re usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest.[10]

    • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
    • Limit screen time.
    • Avoid late-night binging.
    • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
    • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
    • Talk through problems.

    Quality Sleep for a Healthy Life

    Bedtimes for kids can be an enjoyable part of the day with proper sleep hygiene in place. Not only can it be quality time with your child, but it can also set them on the road to good health and high performance. By implementing these tips, you can ensure proper rest for the whole family and better bedtimes for kids.

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    Featured photo credit: Igordoon Primus via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Medical News Today: Why Sleep Is Essential For Health
    [2] Child Mind Institute: Teens And Sleep: The Cost Of Sleep Deprivation
    [3] Depart of Health: Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 To 19
    [4] AAP publications: AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times
    [5] Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership: Sleep Deprivation In Children A Growing Public Health Concern
    [6] Parenting Science: Gentle Infant Sleep Training
    [7] BetterHealth: Solutions to sleep concerns (11) – babies 6 to 12 months
    [8] Parenting Science: 15 Evidence-Based Baby Sleep Tips
    [9] Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines For Children
    [10] NHS: Sleep Tips For Teenagers

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