Written by a contributing writer
It's a tough balance to get right as a parent. We want to do everything we can for them and we need to be sure that we are addressing the difference between nurturing our children and having to tell them what to do. But you want your child to grow up to be someone where their individual personality shines through and not just someone who follows the pack. So where is it best to begin to make sure that your kids are not only well-rounded human beings but also people with their own thoughts, opinions, and personality?
Leave the Controlling Aspect Within Yourself Behind
It's always much easier as a parent to tell your child to not do something rather than debating the issue. But it's important to support your child in a way that helps them develop properly. Your child's development during the first three to five years of their life is very important. This is when their personality that governs the rest of their life forms. So embedding habits in your own parenting methods are also important. This means stopping and thinking before you bark orders. Instead, think about working with your child to help them realize the error of their ways. For example, if you don't want them to touch something because it's unsafe, it's better for you to assert that it is off limits rather than putting it out of their reach without explaining because children will need to learn why certain actions are "wrong" as well.
Developing Their Personality
While to an extent their personality will start to shine through after 6 months or so, you can help to nurture it in certain ways. It's a cliche that we tend to become our parents as we age, and it can be true to an extent, so it's important for you to think about what attitudes and judgments you will bring to the table. Remember that your outlook may rub off on them. As humans, we grow to emulate what's around us, which can be evidenced in many ways, even our accents are borne from a subconscious mimicking of our environment. As you are the biggest influence on your child during those early years, it's important for you to reassess your own beliefs and ask yourself if you want to pass them on to your child.
Style And Substance
A lot has been spoken about the fact that we are dressing our children in clothes that aren't suitable for their age. And every parent has their own reasons why they're dressing their child in clothes that are deemed "inappropriate." However, dressing for comfort, the weather, and the activities at hand is most important. Something that is appropriate for their age is also preferable. For example, just because dirty jokes written on baby/toddler clothes exist, doesn't mean they will be well received. Quirky baby tops are a great option for something unique, comfortable, and appropriate.
Encourage Independence Early On
This is a step that can be difficult to do. If you are a parent that worries a lot, it can be quite difficult to allow your child, in essence, "free reign." But it's very important to give them that opportunity to play by themselves (but within view) when they can, especially during that clingy stage every child has, which is difficult for both of you. That's not to say that you should abandon them, but if you can maintain a little distance and stay where they can see you, it will help to lessen their anxiety while also developing self-resilience, which every child will need, especially as they get older.
The Topic Of Encouragement
There are two schools of thought when it comes to encouraging your child. While a lot of people are very quick to give a ton of praise for performing small tasks, this can be perceived as "over encouragement" by others. This means they will later become discouraged if they don't receive praise from others and base the value of their accomplishments on what others express rather than their own inner voice. Instead, if you ask them to do something, it's better to respond with graciousness as opposed to praise. The same applies if they've done something of a high standard, it's not enough to say "good job" or "well done" as it doesn't give much information on why it was good. Instead, refine your praise to give them the power to evaluate themselves. At the same time, the effort is as important as the final result. You don't want them to be resting on their laurels throughout their life, you most likely want to instill tenacity and a mindset in which to work hard to achieve their goals.
Nurturing the individual in our child as opposed to someone who is just towing the line is a big challenge for any parents. Any parent would like an easy life and while we all have our own sets of values that we like to communicate to our children we realize that they will grow up to be their own entity. So, helping them to think for themselves is a very good thing.