Just because you think you have the market cornered when it comes to raising a child, that doesn't mean your best friend, next-door neighbor or the other playgroup moms agree. Child-rearing beliefs aren't set-in-stone rules and often depend on the each parent's values, culture and upbringing. These beliefs cover an array of topics that range from ideas on discipline to exercise and nutrition -- and almost anything in between.
1. Cultural Beliefs
Depending on your cultural background, you may have different child-rearing beliefs than your friends, coworkers or other moms on the playground. Some cultures have very specific ideals when it comes to how a parent should raise a child, what a parent should expect of the child and the type of discipline that should be used. While there are certain parenting issues that share cross-cultural agreement, such as typically "good" or "bad" behaviors, others differ. For example, parents from almost any culture believe that obeying a parent's rules is a positive behavior. On the other hand, some cultures believe that children shouldn't speak in the presence of an adult, while others believe children should be given the freedom to express themselves in any situation.
As you probably know from talking to other parents, discipline strategies are not universal. Although punitive forms of correction that border on verbal, emotional or physical abuse are never acceptable, choosing an effective discipline strategy is key to successfully raising a child. These practices vary by the child's age and change depending on the family's values and needs. For example, time-outs are a popular form of discipline for toddlers and preschoolers, while it's unlikely that a technique meant for an older child, such as grounding, would work for these age groups.
Your little one's health, nutrition and physical fitness is a major part of the child rearing puzzle. Parental beliefs on what is -- and what isn't -- a healthy lifestyle can make the difference between a child who is fit and one who is the opposite. Unless your 3-year-old is heading off to the grocery store and buying your family's food for the week, you are the one who is in control of what she's eating. Depending on your particular beliefs, you may have a specific opinions about how you feed your child and what it takes to keep her healthy and fit. For example, some parents may believe that eating a vegetarian diet is key to having a healthy child, while others feel that including meat in a child's diet is necessary for nutritional balance.
As your child moves into the preschool years, he is becoming more and more of a social creature. Child-rearing beliefs on social interactions can contribute to how your little one makes friends and what kinds of kids he attaches himself to. You may feel that having a large group of friends is the best path to becoming the life of the party. Although you can't force him into befriending every other child in his preschool class, he may play off of your beliefs and extend his friendship to as many kids as possible. Likewise, if you believe that kids can benefit from having only a few close friends, you may find that your little one isn't necessarily in search of a wide social circle.
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