Parenting Tips for Parents of Newborns
When a newborn becomes part of your life it is easy to commit yourself so completely to the care of your baby – that you completely forget about yourself. But this is a mistake.
Never forget that you the parent are the most important person in Parenting. And you must nourish yourself before you nourish your baby both physically and emotionally.
Do the Following to Be Kind to Yourself
- Try to be the best parent you can because that is what you want to be. But don’t try to be perfect. As soon as you start aiming for perfection, the parenting journey becomes stressful instead of joyful. Because perfection does not exist.
- Don’t be afraid of failing at parenting. Always remember that children need to see us failing – they need to see us managing and overcoming failure. They need to understand that failure is a stepping stone to success. And they must not see our fear of failure and learn from it. Because those who fear failure will never succeed.
The brain grows rapidly in the first year. And it grows by making new connections. Every time the brain receives a sensation it makes a new connection and becomes bigger and better.
Here is What You Can Do to Fill Your Baby’s World with Pleasant Sensations
- Hold your baby skin to skin as much as possible.
- As you breastfeed or change diapers -look into your baby’s eyes
- Talk to your baby all the time in the high-pitched sing-song manner that is called parentese.
Your baby cries when she/he needs help from you. Never hesitate to go to your baby and pick her/him up and soothe her/him by satisfying her/his needs.
Do not listen to others who tell you that you will spoil your baby by holding her/him too much and breastfeeding on demand. Babies who know that their needs will be met – will grow up into secure children.
How to Respond to Your Baby
- Every time your baby cries – do what your heart tells you to do. Rush to your baby’s side and pick her/him up and hold her/him close.
- Breastfeed if your heart tells you to breastfeed.
- Allow comfort suckling
Babies thrive on routine. They find the predictability reassuring. It tells them that all is well with the world. This ensures that they are less stressed, cry less and thereby stress you out less
How to Create a Routine for a Newborn
- Plan to do things one after another in a rough pattern every day. For instance give a massage before bed time or give a feed after the bath with a relative consistency.
- Do not obsess over schedules and get stressed if your routine gets messed up some times. The point of the routine is to reduce stress – not add to it
Babies need their fathers. They need to know that there are at least two people they can rely upon. They also need the variety of experiences – having two care givers can bring them.
In addition Moms should have all the help they can get and since the person who is most available is the father, you must keep the father involved in care giving.
When fathers are involved in baby care they are likely to feel good too because it satisfies their need to be needed.
What Can a Father Do for a Newborn
- Fathers can take over the diaper changes between breastfeeding sessions
- Fathers can give baths
- Fathers can rock babies to sleep
Babies are born with the ability to read and interpret emotions and respond accordingly. This is a wonderful gift and can help them to fit into the world and succeed in it.
Yes your baby is important but don’t teach your baby to be self-centred.
How to Teach Your Baby Empathy
- As you go about feeding your baby and changing diapers – ask for your baby’s cooperation and collaboration.
- Say “Just wait for a minute” “Lie still for a minute” and so on. These are requests that your baby may not understand immediately – but will learn to understand and comply with in a few months.
- When you have a compliant considerate baby – you will be a great parent too.
Babies interact with the world by serving. And they learn about the world by the way in which their serve is returned.
It is much like a tennis match between the baby and the world. And since the baby’s world is made up of you – it is a like a tennis match between the baby and you.
How to Return Your Baby’s Serves
- When your baby coos – coo in response. Then she will coo some more because she knows she is doing something right which you are finding delightful. With some more cooing she will soon learn to speak.
- If you don’t respond – your baby will stop cooing and it will slow the pace of her development.
- Whenever you see your baby interested in something follow her focus and name it say “Oh! Are you looking at the red ball.
Taking turns builds an important part of the brain. The part that is involved with executive functioning. Whenever you do anything with your baby. Do a little bit and then give your baby a chance to do her bit.
This helps you to follow her direction and pace. It also helps her to learn how to wait and remember what she wants to do next and do it when she has her turn.
Doing this develops important brain areas that help children through preschool and school.
How to Take Turns with Your Baby
If your baby claps you clap too then wait. Let your baby clap again and then do the same. If your baby does something else do that and then wait again
Babies have very short attention spans. They quickly move from one thing that interests them to another. Follow their lead and move with them as they shift focus.
How to Follow Your Baby’s Lead
Do not force your baby to stick to something she has lost interest in just because you have just started explaining it and have more to say about it. Leave it and move on to whatever interests your baby now.
Once your baby crosses the 6 month mark and starts eating solids – understand that this graduation to solids is a step towards separation from you and an attempt to become more independent.
How to Avoid Falling Into the Force Feeding Trap
- Give your baby the opportunity to decide what she will eat and how much.
- Your job is to offer foods that are age appropriate, safe and healthy.
- It is her job to experiment with the taste and texture of the food you offer and decide the pace at which she wants to eat solid food.
- Do not worry about nutrition. Most of the nutrition until the age of one comes from breast milk. Solids are offered to train the taste buds and the gut to handle solids.
When you have enough money in your pocket and you have a baby whom you love with your heart in your arms you will be tempted to buy your baby lots of toys. But stop. Don’t do that.
Too many toys become a distraction. They destroy the intense focus that babies are born with. They also increase your stress when you see them scattered around the house.
Neither of these are good for your child.
How to Help Your Baby to Use Each Toy Creatively
- First allow your baby to figure out what the toy does.
- Do not bring in more toys. Allow your baby to get bored enough with the toy as that she/he tries to make the toy do something it was not originally supposed to do.
- This is how creativity develops. And this is possible only when your baby has very few toys
One of the greatest gifts you can give your baby is an early interest in the written word. This curiosity to learn will take your baby to the pinnacle of success.
Do not expect your child to have the focus of a 5 year old. It is more important to be happy about spending time with books than actually reading at this age
How to Get Your Child Interested in Books
- Read to your baby every day so that your child becomes curious about books and wants to read what is in them.
- Whenever you are free start reading a book so that your baby wants to read too.
Toddlers suddenly discover that they are separate from you. They also discover that they have the physical and mental strength to do things themselves.
In addition they are able to remember better than before and are able to link cause and effect. This makes them curious and eager to do things themselves.
If you keep telling your child not to do things she /he will slowly start blocking out your voice and you will find you have a disobedient child.
How to Avoid Saying “No” to Your Toddler
- Ensure that your home is a safe place where you hardly ever have to say “No. Don’t do that”
- Take your child outdoors so that she he can experiment to her/his heart’s content with sand, mud and water
The easiest way keep a toddler glued to a place and quiet is to give her/him a device. But that stops your toddlers brain from growing. It kills her/his motivation. And makes her/him dislike learning.
What toddlers really want to do is run around touch things pick up things turn them over take them apart drop them and so on. That is how real learning happens in 3D in the real world. Allow it.
How to keep your toddler away from devices
- Do not use devices at home when your child is around
- Connect with your child so that your child does not need a device to feel connected
- Give your child enough opportunity to move around
Yes toddlers will fall. And when they fall enough times they will learn what to do to avoid falling.
If you carry your toddler around her/his bones, muscles, joints and brain will never receive the input they need to keep your child stable.
How to Relax when Your Toddler Falls
Remember nature ensures that toddlers are light enough and their bones are still largely cartilaginous enough to get away with falls without serious injury.
Don’t worry about getting dirty. Dirt can be washed off. Don’t worry about infections. If you don’t allow your child to play in the mud you will deprive her/him of the joy of experiencing plenty.
You will deprive your child of the sensations that mud can give. You will deprive your child of the power of creativity.
How to Stay Stress Free When Your Toddler Plays in Mud
Remember infections build immunity.
If you are the parent of a toddler you must be dreading tantrums. Don’t dread them. Prevent them. And when they happen use them to teach thinking.
What to Do When Your Toddler Throws a Tantrum
- Always remember that a tantrum is a need masked by a want. Identify the need. Does your child need food, rest, attention.
- Listen carefully to what the child really needs. It is only when children feel that no one is listening to them that they start throwing tantrums
- Don’t try to shut her/him up with your shouting and anger. And most certainly never hit your toddler to end a tantrum
Your toddler is 2 years old. Do not start treating her/him like a 5 year old.
What to Expect From Your Toddler
- Do not expect your toddler to sit quietly for hours.
- Avoid taking your baby to places where she/he will have to sit quietly next to you.
- Avoid very long drives
If you focus too much on your toddler and constantly praise your child – she/he will get addicted to praise and will not be able to manage without it.
How to Avoid Praise Addiction
- Once your child learns how to do something stop praising her/him for it
- Allow for periods of independent quite play so that your child learns to enjoy personal accomplishment without external validation.
It is tough to get a toddler to move from one task to another but don’t fall into the trap of making your child do things by using junk food as a bribe.
How to Avoid Bribing Your Child with Junk Food
- Do not overschedule your child
- Keep junk food out of the house
Toddlers are just learning the ways of the world and will need to be corrected time and again when they do something that is not socially acceptable.
How to Connect Before You Correct
- Kneel down so that you are at your child’s level
- Look into your child’s eyes
- First listen and then speak
Pre school is preparation for school. It is the time for children to build the physical, social and emotional skills they will require to do well in school.
Do not expect your child to learn everything that a first grader needs to know while she/he is in pre school.
What to Do with Your Pre-Schooler at Home
- Do not make your child study for hours to relearn what has been taught in school once she/he gets home. That will make your child hate learning.
- Allow your child to run about and play. Let them spend all their energy running, jumping and shouting.
- Encourage their curiosity and creativity by allowing them to touch things, pick up things and ask questions
When your child starts going to pre school both you and your child will suffer from separation anxiety.
You are likely to have much more separation anxiety than your child does because the fact is we need our children much more than they need us.
If you don’t manage your anxiety well enough – you will increase your child’s anxiety
How to Cope with Separation Anxiety
- Work on your anxiety to control it.
- If you are unable to manage your anxiety well reach out for expert help.
Children learn best from adults who they trust. And they learn to trust adults whom their parents trust.
If you want your child to learn everything that her/his teacher teaches in school then teach your child to love her/his teacher.
How to Build a Good Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher
- Never criticize the teacher in front of your child.
- Don’t keep fighting with the teacher about small things.
- Respect what the teacher says and send what is asked for in class.
A child who is able to put on her/his shoes, button her/his pants and go to the toilet by her/himself – is likely to settle into preschool with much greater ease than a child who does not.
How to Make Your Child Independent
- Do not keep doing everything for your child.
- Preschoolers are very enthusiastic to do things by themselves. Allow it.
When your child begins preschool she/he will be staying away from you and alone by her/himself for a few hours in the day. This is the right time to teach your child about boundaries and consent.
How to Teach Your Child About Consent
- Teach your child to be vocal when she/he does not like something.
- Also teach your child about personal space and tell her/him that it is OK to speak up if someone enters her/his personal space.
You cannot discipline a child by punishing her/him. You can only discipline her/him by showing lots and lots of love and understanding.
Children misbehave when their needs are not fulfilled, and they feel that no one understands them.
How to Avoid Punishing
- Be gentle with your child. Understand why she/he is behaving in a certain way and explain why she/he should behave in a different way.
- If you punish you will get into a cat and mouse game with your child. Your child will find ways of doing what she/he is not supposed to do without your knowledge. And you will find an absolute immunity to punishment
When a child starts preschool she/he first meets other children, and in many ways realizes how little she/he knows in many areas. This cause the child’s self-esteem to take a beating
This low self-esteem becomes even lower when parents start comparing her/him with other children.
A child with low self-esteem can never achieve anything even if she/he is extremely intelligent.
How to Stop Comparing
- Do not say “If she/he can do it – why can’t you?”
- Love unconditionally
Children learn the most when they are stress free. And natural environments are the best places to destress.
Natural environments also help children to build focus and stay calm.
How to Ensure that Your Child Gets a Dose of Nature
- Take away devices
- Go out yourself
Every child is a genius but most children don’t like to prove that they are geniuses time and again.
That is why children begin to resent it when we ask them too many questions or show off the skills that they have learnt.
What to Do When You Feel Like Asking Questions
- Remember children are eager to learn. Teach them.
- Do not hesitate to repeat what you taught yesterday if it looks like your child does not remember what you taught her/him.
- If she/he wants to teach you what she/he has learnt – then learn like an eager student.
- Just avoid asking “What is this colour?” “Can you show Aunty your dance” and so on.
As soon as your child steps into her/his teens start treating her/him like an equal. If you try to control your teenager you will find yourself in the midst of rebellion.
How to Stop Controlling Your Teen
- Do not order your teen around.
- Do not be dictatorial with your rules. Discuss before you make rules if you want the rules to be followed
- Listen if you want to be listened to.
Teenagers are expecting you to be in control of every possible situation. They are expecting you to have al the answers. That is why when they see you worried about something, they get frightened.
When they are frightened – they either run away from what is frightening them or they start shouting.
So if you are constantly worried about your teenager’s exams and keep nagging her/him – you will find that she/he has either stopped studying (compelling you to nag more) or has started shouting at you when you nag (resulting in you shouting even more)
What Can Help Your Teen Behave Better
- Remember that your teenagers’ behavior depends on your behavior.
- Behave the way you want your teenager to behave
Of course, all of us love our children but by the time our children become teens. We stop showing them our love. We only show them our anger and irritation.
We only point out what is wrong with them. We can never see anything right with them.
How to Show Your Love to Your Teen
- Teens care about those who care about them. If you want to give your teenager negative feedback first start with appreciating the positives.
- Also show them what is in it for them if they listen to you.
Life is not easy for teens. They have to constantly keep many people happy. Their teachers their friends their parents.
But it is impossible to behave well all the time so when they need to let off steam they do it in the safest space home.
How to Allow Your Teen to Let Off Steam
- Do not to take it personally when your teen yells or screams at you.
- Understand that you are your teen’s safe space and absorb all the angst.
- Look at it in perspective. It is much better for your teen to yell at you than to yell at her/his teacher.
One of the only identities a teenager has is the identity of being a student. To feel proud of this identity your teen needs to do reasonably well in school.
Unfortunately, when children enter their teens there is a sudden increase in the quantum of syllabus that they have to master.
The realization that they will have to put in more time and energy to master the increased syllabus often dawns on them too late. And then they panic and stop studying altogether.
How to Keep You Teen Connected to Studies
Remember always to remain connected with what your teen is learning so that you can help your child to plan their study schedule.
Teenagers need their friends. When they are asked to study or excel at something at the cost of being with their friends they will never be happy or motivated.
If you don’t allow them to have friends in the real world they will find friends in the virtual world. And this may be much more dangerous.
What to Remember About Teen Friendships
- Friends are all important to your child. The birthday party that you keep her/him from going to, or the birthday party she/he does not get invited to is likely to be much more important to her/him than exams
- Welcome your teens friends into your house. Let your house be a safe space for them to hang out.
Teens have tremendous amounts of energy. This makes them restless and prevents them from focusing on learning.
How to Encourage Teens to Be Physically Active
- Make sure your teen has enough time to go out and spend all this energy.
- It is ideal to allow your teen to play for fun in a non-competitive environment. Teens are already under a lot of stress and the games they play should be stress busters not stress generators
Comparing is a way of life for human beings. And comparing one child with another is often a conversation starter when parents get together.
Unfortunately, these conversations often stick in our brains and we carry them home with us. In the background of these conversations we often find that our children have glaring defects and we start nagging them to change.
How to Avoid Comparing
- Remember teenagers are already acutely aware of their faults and shortcomings. When you point them out they start feeling very small and lose their self-esteem.
- Do not compare. Help your teen to excel in whatever she/he is doing and help her/him to perform to the best of her/his ability.
Devices are an escape from the real world.
When teenagers feel judged in the real world they escape into the virtual world through devices.
How to Keep Teens Away From Devices
- Understand that teenagers have extremely boring lives. Make their lives interesting.
- Talk to them without criticising them. Laugh with them. Do something with them that interests them. Go for a trek with them. Listen to music with them and so on.
- When they have enough interesting things happening in the house – they will not need their devices to entertain them
The importance of healthy food and sleep in the teen years is often underestimated. The growing body of a teenager needs nutritious food and lots of sleep.
Unfortunately most teens live on junk food and survive on very little sleep. This affects their performance and their mood.
How to Keep Your Teen Healthy
- Remember to give your teen enough nutritious snacks. Cater for the fact that your teen will always be hungry and have healthy snack ready at all times.
- Also cut your teen some slack. Relieve her/him of some extracurricular activities and allow her/him to get more sleep
Guilt is the worst human emotion. It makes us do all the wrong things. It keeps us from thinking rationally and it makes us behave inconsistently.
If you are irrational and inconsistent you cannot be a good parent.
How to Get Over Single Parent Guilt
- Whatever led to your being a single parent lies in the past. Leave it in the past and live proudly in the future.
- If you are proud of yourself your child will grow up into a confident person with high self-esteem.
- Learn to love yourself. Only then can you fully love another person (in this case your child)
When you are a single parent at times you will feel tired of walking through life alone. At such times turn to your child.
In fact make the whole journey of life a partnership with your child.
How to Build a Partnership With Your Child
- Don’t serve everything up to your child on a platter. Also do not frighten your child with your fears of what the future may bring
- Excitedly look towards the future and plan and strategize to make both your dreams come true
No one can live like an island. All of us need to rely on each other. All of us need help.
Invest time and energy into nurturing a social circle that can nourish you emotionally and help you physically when you need it.
How to Build Fruitful Connections
- Do not hesitate to reach out. Do not hesitate to connect.
- All of us are grateful for connections. It is just that sometimes we hesitate to take the first step.
The only way to know your child the only way to truly connect with your child – is to have constant conversations.
How to Remind Yourself to Find Time to Talk
Remember your child only has you to talk to.
Challenges come to those who can handle them. Never feel like the victim in a situation. Always feel like the victor. The minute you look at situations like the victor the challenges shrink in front of you
Looking after a child single handed can be a lot of work. And yes of course it is important work and no one can do it other than you.
But to do all that work you need your strength. So take care of yourself and stay healthy and strong.
Tips to Look After Yourself
- Don’t try to be super human. And don’t keep putting yourself last.
- Just like your child is the most important person in your life – you are the most important person in your child’s life.
- Just like you are talking care of your child for yourself – take care of yourself for your child
Yes life is tough for children when they have only one parent to rely on. But that doesn’t mean that they should be pampered all the time and never be given responsibilities.
How to Give Your Child Responsibilities
- Do not hesitate to give your child chores.
- Remember that chores are the work of life and they keep us happy and grounded.
- Also give your child independence and freedom. Constant monitoring will only create a rift and build resentment between you and your child
All of us feel safer within boundaries and rules. Do not hesitate to make age appropriate rules and draw age appropriate boundaries around your child.
Do not worry that discipline and boundaries will make your child dislike you and feel sad. On the contrary children feel cared for when we say no.
That is why when they are craving love they do something that they shouldn’t do – so that we will stop them and they will feel loved
How to Set Boundaries and Rules for Your Child
- Discuss what your objective is before you make the rule
- Change rules and boundaries as your child grows
If you are a lenient parent don’t let anyone convince you that being lenient will spoil your child.
On the other hand If you are strict parents don’t let anyone convince you that your strictness will destroy your child.
General Guideline to Follow While Implementing Discipline
- Children read the love behind our actions. The actions themselves make no difference to them.
- If you have the right intentions, (as of course you do) be who you are most importantly be consistent and your child will be fine
Do not release all your anger or all your stress on your child. And don’t lean on them for emotional support.
Children are not emotionally equipped to handle adult emotions and needs
What to Do to Reduce Your Stress
Get adult friends you can talk to
When you have to constantly do the work of two people and also ensure that the financials and logistics are sorted you will need to be organized, matter of fact and focused.
But don’t let this erase your spontaneity completely. Children thrive on spontaneity.
How to be spontaneous on busy days