Parenting is definitely one of the most challenging roles that any person can experience. So it is normal to have loads of questions along the way, and to wonder how you should handle a particular issue or situation. Although at times you may feel that you are struggling alone, the fact is that most parents face similar difficulties and quandaries as they seek to raise their children in the best possible way. It can be very encouraging to know that others have walked this path before you and have found their way through successfully. So let the following nine no-nonsense questions and answers give you a good head-start as you go on to find the answers to all your parenting questions.
1. How can I get my child to sleep peacefully?
Sleep deprivation is one of the most draining aspects of early parenthood, so it is vital that you get your baby into a good sleeping routine as soon as possible. Make bedtimes one of their favourite parts of the day, where you tell (or read) stories, reassure them of your love and care and perhaps say a prayer before you kiss them and tuck them safely into bed. Remember, you child will always try to get you to stay a little longer, but you need to be firm and resist the temptation, for their sake and yours.
2. What is the best way to go about potty training?
There is not one simple answer to this question as every child is different and some catch on much quicker than others. So it’s important that you do not place pressure on the child or create any kind of anxiety about the whole area of potty training. Rather make it a fun experience with star charts and small rewards, and of course the enticement of being able to wear “big underwear” instead of baby diapers.
3. Why do children tell lies and what can I do about it?
Lying is a very common occurrence with kids and it is one of your responsibilities as a parent to teach your children to be truthful. Of course you need to be committed to truth yourself – it’s no good expecting your child to be truthful when you tell lies yourself. Lying is often motivated by fear of punishment, or as a means of escaping reality and making themselves feel important. Try to find out what is motivating your child to lie so that you can deal with the root of the issue.
4. How do I talk to my children about sex?
Firstly ask yourself how you found out about the birds and the bees, and whether or not you would want your children to follow the same route. If you were left to figure things out for yourself, chances are you would prefer to teach your children the facts in an informative and pleasant manner. Children are naturally curious, so let their questions guide your discussion. As you keep your lines of communication open with your child, you will be able to talk about anything and everything, including sex.
5. Should kids get pocket money?
Giving your children pocket money is a great way to train them how to manage their finances. Besides having money to cover certain needs and treats they can also learn how to save and how to give generously to others. Once your children reach their teenage years you might consider reducing their pocket money in order to encourage them to start finding ways to earn their own money by taking a weekend job or making items to sell.
6. Are pets a good idea and who takes care of them?
“Please, please, pleeeeease can I have a puppy?” or a hamster, or a guinea pig, or a budgie? How can you resist those pleading eyes and the joy and excitement that will inevitably follow if you get the greatly desired pet… but deep down in your heart you know that in a few short weeks you will most likely be the one feeding, cleaning and taking care of all the pets needs. However, pets can be an excellent training ground for children to take responsibility and learn that along with the pleasure of playing with their pets there is also a duty to fulfil.
7. What do I do if my child doesn’t want to go to school?
Most children have the odd day when they really don’t want to go to school. But if it becomes a pattern and your child is severely distressed, refusing to get out of bed or get ready for school, then you would need to delve deeper and discover the underlying reasons. Perhaps your child is being bullied, or perhaps they have a learning disability which puts them continually on the back foot in the classroom. Do whatever it takes to help your child reach a place where they are willing and contented to go off to school every day.
8. How can I help a child who is anxious and nervous?
When kids are overly anxious they need a parenting style which is kind and understanding but also encourages and empowers them to tackle and overcome their fears. Help your children to understand the difference between healthy caution and unhealthy fear. Teach them the skills they need to cope with whatever it is that frightens them. For instance, if they are afraid of the dark, set the bedside lamp right next to their bed and show them how to switch it on when they need to. If they end up leaving the lamp on all night, gradually help them to leave it off for longer and longer periods.
9. How do I teach my child to be mature and independent?
Reaching maturity is a journey comprising many small steps. Day by day as your child learns and grows you can be encouraging them to do things for themselves, whether it’s eating on their own or tying their shoelaces. Let your children explore and try new things, even if they fail or fall – it is all a vital part of their development. As their competence expands they will be able to reach out and do things for others, helping with chores and learning the secret of maturity which is overcoming the scourge of self-centredness.