As the mom of a toddler and preschooler, you live by one code: to do the absolute best you can to raise your kids. But in this crazy world with all its influences, moms like you begin to wonder how much control they really have over who their child becomes. Scary. Recent research in psychology has shown that the answer is “a lot.” Knowing this, you might consider a few changes here and there in your parenting style. Whew.
All Homes Are “Homeschools”
For the "average mom," the home and school are completely separate places. But growing children with loving parents like you really don’t feel much of a difference. Parents who are constantly “playing” with their children are actually nurturing a love of learning in the child. By playing games, from puzzles to patty-cake, you engage your child in cognitively heavy tasks. In other words, these games are learning experiences to your children and help foster a personality that is motivated to learn. Adding more “brain games” or physically intensive games to your at-home-play repertoire can influence your child to be more of an active learner.
Parents as Social Teachers
Ross Parke and Kevin MacDonald wrote in the journal “Child Development” that when parents act positively toward their children, children are more likely to grow up with strong social skills. Praising your kid’s efforts, even a poor effort -- like that time your preschooler drew a rather unflattering picture of you -- helps teach a child self-confidence and gives her emotional validation. Children with these traits are more likely to get along with others in school and have larger groups of friends. As is today will likely also be in the future: Interpersonal skills rule. So, be a positive parent, even when it’s not so easy.
If you want your child to be secure when he grows up, you won’t need to hire a body guard -- security comes from within. The psychological theory of attachment states that during childhood children learn how to develop and maintain their relationships through parental interaction. If you play your cards right, your child will grow up “securely attached,” which basically means capable of establishing strong interpersonal relationships, especially with the opposite sex. However, if you are too strict or too lenient on their children, your children are likely to grow up with an “insecure attachment style,” which will lead to poor relationship-building skills.
Emotional Intelligence 101
Parenting is full of emotions. To a mom, emotions are commonplace, a part of life. But to children, emotions are new. The childhood phase is when children first get to understand what emotions are. Some parents neglect this fact and go about parenting as if children were coworkers, without realizing that children lack the emotional intelligence of Sally in accounting. Emotional intelligence, or how you recognize and control emotions, is first taught in the household through parent-children interactions. As a parent, you can teach emotional intelligence through games, which can show children a gamut of emotions, from frustration to excitement. For example, when daddy plays “the scary bear” game, your toddler is feeling a mix of excitement and fear. If you don’t introduce your child to these emotions early, later in life she may not be well-versed in coping with them.