[Note: this story was inspired by Adele Paynter, head of Lower School at Charlotte Country Day School]
Parenting in modern times can be a hard and surprisingly lonely endeavor. It seems like the more you know about the parenting styles of your neighbors, your friends and of other countries, the less certain you are of your own. There are countless strategies out there for becoming a perfect parent, but it seems like every style has its own critics that say it will produce messed-up kids.
Maybe its time we strip parenting down to the basics. According to this article, focusing in on a few key elements, like sleeping, eating, disciplining and manners can make the whole balancing act of parenting a lot less stressful.
Here are 8 things you can do to be a better modern parent:
An elementary age kid needs 10-13 hours of sleep a night, so make it a priority to have a regular bedtime routine that doesn’t involve any screens. More sleep = happier, healthier kids who will do better academically and socially the next day.
Dinner can be a great opportunity to squeeze in a nutritious meal and some quality family time. To keep things healthy and to keep picky eaters at bay, make it a goal to try new foods, eat the rainbow, and prepare some meals together.
A lot of heated debate revolves around disciplining children, but a few simple things to keep in mind are: don’t take the bad behavior personally, remain calm and consistent, and focus on changing your kid’s behaviors, not their thoughts.
4. Conflict management
Every kid will deal with run-of-the-mill conflicts as they grow up. It’s important to prepare them by teaching them to be assertive (not aggressive), straightforward and confident. Remember, kids learn from example, so practice what you preach.
First, think about yourself and what you want your family values to be, then take time to instill these values in your kids. Remember that “children learn values by watching how you live” and how you treat others.
6. Academic pressure
It can be hard to find a way to encourage your kid to do well in school without putting too much pressure on them. One way to find the balance is to focus on effort – “children benefit when parents help them focus on improving their abilities, rather than on proving them.”
Don’t overthink this; a child’s digital life should mimic their non-digital one and be balanced, kind and empathetic. Some basic ways to achieve this are to limit screen time around meals and bedtime, and only giving them technology that they’re ready for. And as always, practice what you preach.
Balance is a common thread between all of these things, but it’s important to focus on it specifically as well. Don’t overschedule yourself or your kid, and take time to enjoy the simple things that make family life so great.
Bottom line: enjoy life and enjoy parenting
Looking for more advice? Check out CCDS’s Parent Education series, which is free and open to the public online.