Happy new year! May you have lots to celebrate in 2017.
The start of the year is like having a clean slate to start over. It’s like putting everything gone-by away and receiving a second (or third, or fourth) chance to get it right! Resolutions made at the start of the year seem more able to foster the belief that all is possible.
Here are 10 parenting resolutions for 2017.
1) Don’t be perfect, be good enough
Striving for perfection is setting yourself up for failure. It’s synonymous with inviting stress and disappointment into your life. Rather than being perfect, be good enough. Being a good enough parent involves a delicate balancing act between being there for your children without suffocating them and finding time for yourself and your activities.
2) Keep it simple
There’s a common misconception that you can’t be a minimalist if you have kids. You can. There are a multitude of benefits to experimenting with minimalism with kids. And there is plenty of research to back this up. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and the University of Illinois have proven that scarcity, rather than abundance, spurs creativity. A previous study came to the same conclusions: too many toys stifle children’s creativity.
Minimalism is not synonymous with frugality. It’s about clearing the clutter and spending on what matters. It’s about being more and doing more with less. It’s about perfecting the balancing act between spending on what matters and eliminating the unnecessary. It’s about enjoying simple pleasures. It’s about finding and creating alternatives.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
Leonardo da Vinci
8 things to consider when adopting a minimalist approach with kids
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Book review: Simplicity Parenting
3) Foster acceptance
Comparing children, in your deepest thoughts or out loud, can have far reaching consequences. With the advent of social media, it has become easier than ever before to compare children and find out just where they’re falling short. The problem is that when kids feel unaccepted, turning to self-destructive behaviour can be one way in which they calm and soothe those negative feelings.
There is much evidence to suggest that words and thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Just as what you say to yourself can have power over what you become, what you say to your children can have power over what they become.
Young children develop their sense of self from how they believe others perceive them.
4) Put yourself on your agenda
Have you noticed that you’re more irritable and have less patience when you’re tired? A recent study shows that high levels of stress in parents (especially mothers) not only translates into poor education outcomes but also leads to behavioural and emotional problems.
It’s important to realise that:
• If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t really take care of what else needs to be done. You’re less productive when you’re worked up and tired.
• If you’re stressed, guilt-ridden and anxious, you can actually do more harm than good.
• Taking time off for yourself will be beneficial for both your professional and your social life. It will make you healthier and happier.
• Accept that you deserve time to yourself everyday. Stop feeling guilty about spending time on yourself.
• Put yourself on your priority list. Relax. Do something you enjoy. Unwind.
• Don’t know what to do during your “me” time? Write a list of the things you’ve always wanted to do and put them on your to-do list.
• “Me” time could be as short as 10 to 15-minute breaks taken regularly. Commit to taking some time off everyday.
• Creating a daily ritual could make it easier to take time off.
5) Let go
While there is a strong link between parental intervention and children’s wellbeing, research shows that being over responsive to children can be counterproductive. One study found that inappropriate parental intervention could lead to kids developing greater anxiety and stress, and could even lead them to develop ineffective coping skills in adulthood. There’s a downside to being too quick to rescue your kids: they can become accustomed to the fact that there will always be someone to smooth out difficult patches.
Both researchers and active learning proponents agree that children learn best by doing. The origins of this method can be traced back to Plato who believed that the only way to learn philosophy was by using it: learning needs personal experience and practice. One must learn from one’s actions and through trial and error.
6) Begin a reading culture
Many experts agree that the earlier in life children are exposed to books and to different vocabulary, the better they learn new words, and the more they benefit from everyday experiences. The evidence is clear: Reading is important for vocabulary, language and social skills development. There are multiple advantages to reading to kids, and there is plenty of research to back that up.
• Reading to your kids awakens their curiosity, imagination and critical thinking skills.
• Children who hear stories are more likely to fall in love with books.
• Reading provides a bonding experience with your child and can be comforting.
• Children who are read to from the earliest moments express themselves better and therefore become better communicators.
• Reading instils a sense of enjoyment of reading among children.
• Reading promotes two-way communication.
• Reading opens up kids’ world. It introduces them to new things and new places.
7) Be present
Any research on learning outcomes will tell you that family background explains most of the gaps in student achievement. Education begins at home and never stops. New findings show that parental involvement in education is pivotal for the success of children throughout their school years and beyond.
Why should you get more involved in your child’s education?
– Because despite their best efforts, schools do not cater to all students’ needs. Despite its best efforts, formal education will not necessarily make your children a living, and schools alone will not prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead.
– Because schools do not necessarily prioritize the same things that you may.
– Because schooling and education are two separate things and you can’t keep holding schools and teachers responsible for the education of your kids. Dancy’s book “You are your child’s first teacher” perfectly explains how the simplest activities parents share with their kids at home can help them develop cognitive, social and emotional skills. Schooling takes place in schools, education takes place everywhere else.
Spend quality time with your children. Groundbreaking research shows that it’s not the amount of time you spend with your kids that counts – it’s the quality. Little pieces of time matter. Spend time on things you both enjoy. Cook, play, laugh. Read to them or with them. Talk with them. Let them participate in your activities.
How To Get Your Time Back in 10 Easy Steps.
5 ways busy parents can get involved in their kids’ education
Beyond schooling: 8 tips for getting more involved in your child’s education
The 7 lies keeping you busy
8) Nurture Your Child’s Independence
Many education experts agree that children learn best by doing things by themselves. The quest for independence is innate and occurs quite early. Even kids as young as two can start developing their independence. By age three, most children can choose the clothes they’d like to wear, dress themselves and choose what they’d like to eat and so on.
As kids grow older, they gain greater independence and can do much more than what most parents believe. By providing the appropriate support depending on your child’s age, you can nurture the drive towards independence.
According to a recent Braun research study, giving children regular chores may have long-lasting benefits academically, socially, emotionally and professionally. Other studies have found that the earlier (from age 3) children are assigned chores, the more self-reliant and independent they become, and they also become more responsible and tend to do better in school.
Nurture your child’s independence, one day at a time!
9) Set great expectations
Children whose parents have high expectations tend to live up to them. A recent study found that high parental expectation increased student achievement, but only when parents didn’t aim too high. In other words, the more parents had unrealistic expectations, the more was their children’s academic performance.
Much evidence suggests that children need some form of authoritative guidance. Authoritative parenting is not authoritarian parenting. Authoritative parenting is about finding the right balance between parents’ needs and children’s needs.
Encourage your child to express him/herself. Recognise your child’s need for autonomy. Set great expectations!
10) Open up your child’s world
New studies suggest that the human desire to resolve uncertainty is so strong that people seek answers even when they know those answers will hurt. This has been confirmed by other studies which have found that a very strong relationship exists between openness and intelligence and scholastic aptitude.
McRae defines openness as “a broad and general dimension, seen in vivid fantasy, artistic sensitivity, depth of feeling, behavioural flexibility, intellectual curiosity, and unconventional attitudes”. Curiosity is one of the ways in which openness is manifested.
There are still many who wrongly believe that curiosity is an innate characteristic. While children’s eagerness to explore and discover can be observed in children from the youngest age, some researchers such as Professor Steven Dutch argue that that the tinkering observed in children is not necessarily synonymous with creativity. Professor Dutch insists on the fact that curiosity and creativity are acquired tastes. In his opinion, curiosity involves “seeking new kinds of stimuli”. In other words, if curiosity is not stimulated, it dies.
Fuel your child’s fire for exploration!