Parenting is an active process that facilitates the emotional, social and intellectual development of a child. Bringing up a child can be challenging at times. Parenting can sometimes seem like a daunting task, especially when things do not go your way. This article will help you understand your parental role better.
There are three key concepts that all parents should be familiar with, these key concepts when combined together can give you three simple rules to better bring up your child.
- Critical periods.
- Parenting styles
A critical period is a time frame when a child is sensitive to both positive and negative external influences. The child’s brain is most sensitive to adversities( exposure to toxins, neglect, abuse etc) during the first few years of life. Adversities in early childhood can sometimes lead to a lifelong increase in the risk of developing mental illness. The second critical period is adolescence when several transitions in life take place and one’s self-esteem begins to take shape.
The stress that children undergo during these critical periods can be
1) Positive – Wherein children are exposed to brief periods of apparent stress while being comforted by a consistently caring, responsible adult. eg – First day of school or the visit to a doctor. Positive stress is growth-promoting.
2)Tolerable – Exposure to great adversity buffered by a consistently caring and responsible adult. eg Serious illness, injury or parental separation. The chances of long term consequences are reduced.
2)Toxic – Frequent and overwhelming stress in the absence of a consistently caring adult. This disrupts the normal development of the brain eg – Abuse and neglect.
It is your job as a parent to make sure most periods or stress are positive, or tolerable. Do not stress your child out unnecessarily. It is your responsibility to help your child deal with stress in a formative manner. A consistently caring adult is one who can comfort the child during periods of stress. Not someone who can point out what is wrong and give righteous advice.
We are all born with the innate need to form attachments and this helps us survive the world. The process of attachment begins at birth and is predominantly complete by 2 years of age. The attachments that your children form with you, will serve as their blueprint to the world. A child who is unable to form secure attachments is prone to develop mental illness and behavioural problems in later life.
The strength of attachment is determined by 2 factors
1)How sensitive the parents are to the needs of the child.
2)How much the child is held and comforted in the first few months after birth.
It is your job as a parent to make sure you do your absolute best to form secure attachments with your child. This again means that you need to be a consistent, caring adult. If you have attachment problems of your own, it will most likely pass on to your child. Please make a conscious effort to overcome your problems, so that you can be there for your child.