Younger children are becoming more independent and are beginning to build friendships. They are able to reason and can make their own decisions given hypothetical situations. Young children demand constant attention, but will learn how to deal with boredom and be able to play independently. They also enjoy helping and feeling useful and able. Parents may assist their child by encouraging social interactions and modelling proper social behaviours. A large part of learning in the early years comes from being involved in activities and household duties. Parents who observe their children in play or join with them in child driven play have the opportunity to glimpse into their children’s world, learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance (Kenneth, 2009).
Parents are also teaching their children health, hygiene and eating habits through instruction and by example.
Parents are expected to make decisions about their child’s education. Parenting styles in this area diverge greatly at this stage with some parents becoming heavily involved in arranging organised activities and early learning programs. Other parents choose to let the child develop with few organised activities.
Children begin to learn responsibility, and consequences of their actions, with parental assistance. Some parents provide a small allowance that increases with age to help teach children the value of money and how to be responsible with it.
Parents who are consistent and fair with their discipline, who openly communicate and offer explanations to their children, and who do not neglect the needs of their children in some way often find they have fewer problems with their children as they mature.
Parents often feel isolated and alone in parenting adolescents (Everything.explained.today, n.d.)
Adolescence can be a time of high risk for children, where new-found freedoms can result in decisions that drastically open up or close off life opportunities. There are also large changes occurring in the brain during adolescence; the emotional centre of the brain is now fully developed but the rational frontal cortex hasn’t matured yet to keep all of those emotions in check (talkingtoteens.com, n.d.)
Adolescents tend to increase the amount of time they spend with peers of the opposite gender; however, they still maintain the amount of time they spend with those of the same gender, and they do this by decreasing the amount of time they spend with their parents.
Although adolescents look to peers and adults outside the family for guidance and models for how to behave, parents remain influential in their development. Studies show that parents have a significant impact, for instance, on how much teens drink (talkingtoteens.com, n.d.).
During adolescence children are beginning to form their identity and are testing and developing the interpersonal and occupational roles that they will assume as adults. Therefore, it is important that parents treat them as young adults. Parental issues at this stage of parenting include dealing with “rebellious” teenagers who consistently push the limits. In order to prevent these issues, it is important for the parents to build a trusting relationship with their children. This can be achieved by planning and taking part in fun activities together, keeping promises made to the children, spending time with them, not reminding kids about their past mistakes and listening to and talking to them.
When a trusting relationship is built up, adolescents are more likely to approach their parents for help when faced with negative peer pressure. Helping the children build a strong foundation will help them resist negative peer pressure.
Parenting does not usually end when a child turns 18. Support may be needed in a child’s life well beyond the adolescent years and continues into middle and later adulthood. Parenting can be a lifelong process.
Parents may provide financial support to their adult children, which can also include providing an inheritance after death. The life perspective and wisdom given by a parent can benefit their adult children in their own lives. Becoming a grandparent is another milestone and has many similarities with parenting.
Roles can be reversed in some ways when adult children become caregivers to their elderly parents.
Childbearing and Happiness
Data from the British Household Panel Survey and the German Socio-Economic Panel suggests that having up to two children increases happiness in the years around the birth, and mostly so for those who have postponed childbearing. However, having a third child does not increase happiness (Mikko, Rachel, 2014).
Effective Parenting for Growing Thriving Teenagers – Excerpts from ‘Conquering Parenting Adolescence’
So far, we have covered the many differences in attitudes and practices when it comes to parenting, many cultural differences and ways, but there are basic realities that apply to us all.
As parents we feel the need to protect, safeguard and guide our children, but as children we begin to feel the need to pull away from our parents, so that we can experiment and find our own way and this can make the teen years rather difficult and the path full of potholes…
However, as both parents and teenagers, our needs to feel cared for, supported and respected are equally essential – caring, supportive and respectful communication skills can effectively help us both as parents and teeagers in navigating through this turbulent and sometimes frustrating journey of growth and separation.
So, we are trodding along and enjoying parenting our lovely malleable little children and then one day: BANG – our sweet and innocent young children turn into these grumpy, moody, unresponsive and uncommunicative strangers who criticise our tastes and ways, challenge our rules and regulations and question or even reject our values…
The once cute and loving children have now morphed into an adolescents – “too smart for their own good but too lazy mentally, physically advanced for their age but too immature emotionally, over egocentric and selfish but also too idealistic and naive”.
Adolescence is a difficult period, for us parents and our teenagers as well as the society at large, as teens rapidly double their weight and grow a quarter taller in height, become capable of reproduction but also inflicting injury or death. Using legal and illegal substances that may damage or kill themselves or others; sex, drugs, and violence…
This period can be quite daunting for us parents and can have quite a psychological impact, as we may begin to feel a sense of loss of control and security and feel the strain on our relationships, sapping our confidence and lead to self-blaming.
We also feel less needed as we witness our power and control decrease in our children’s lives, and that leads to much worry, fear and anxiety.
So, it is understandable for us parents to be overwhelmed and confused in the face of it all, and why it is that this confusion leads to many parents to:
1. Either engage in taking a tough stance and laying down strict rules, regulations, punishments and setting them in stone (attempts to regain control).
2. Disengage, throw their hands up in the air, get out of the way and look for the best (relinquish responsibility).
Both approaches can be detrimental to our most crucial relationship – parent and child’s…
Effective parenting aims at meeting the child’s basic needs, facilitates growth, resilience and fosters autonomy.
By providing unconditional love and acceptance, even when our children demonstrate unapproved behaviour, we can help create a clear distinction between them as individuals and their actions and behaviour for them (this in no way means condoning socially unacceptable behaviour), developing the understanding that the action may be bad, not the child.
By treating our teenager as a ‘real’ person with respect and dignity, we will no longer convey the message: ‘We think we know better just because we are older’.
By providing structure, we can ensure that children understand how the world works and what to expect as they grow up, preparing them and helping them feel more secure.
By encouraging them to make decisions and take on a degree of responsibility for the choices they make and the consequences they must face, we can give them a clear understanding of cause and effect in relation to all their actions and help them develop autonomy.
By listening to what our teenagers actually have to say, respecting their views, and treating them as a ‘real’ people, we will be directly communicating to them that they are connected to and a part of a whole (relationship, group, community…), and that appropriate behaviour and communication is expected of him/her.
By using positive words and actions, we can nurture and have a tremendous effect on our teenagers self-esteem (belittling comments or comparing them unfavourably with others will only make them feel worthless).
By being generous with rewards – love, hugs and compliments, we can work wonders by making our teenager feel appreciated and give them the confidence to work independently, leading to feelings of capability and strength.
By ‘teaching by example’ in parenting – being a model for the desired traits in our teenagers, we will be utilising this powerful asset – children’s inherent necessity to look at their parents as role models and imitate them (the younger the child is, the more he or she tends to imitate the parents).
By having our own needs met and our limitations recognised as parents, we can recognise
our strengths and weaknesses and grow – having realistic expectations from ourselves, partners and children is vital for effective parenting.
By not setting very high and unattainable goals and standards for ourselves, our partners and children, we will allow enough freedom for all to feel supported and enable growth on all levels.
As in all our relationships, ‘communication’ is key!