In a society where parenting can be all-consuming, it is essential to find ways to work on self-care and healthy lifestyles. But how can we achieve this, especially when there is an unhealthy family dynamic?
In an interview with Dr. Camille Vardy of Healthy Wellthy U, we delved into various topics, including social pressures on parents, the impact of our current lifestyle on children, the pandemic’s effects, and strategies for handling these issues. We also discussed the importance of toddlers’ developmental phase, and what parents of older children can do to shift existing dynamics.
In this blog post, you will learn valuable insights into the complexities of parenting and how to navigate them for a healthier and happier family life.
What are the biggest challenges that parents face today?
Parenting in today’s world is a huge challenge. Many parents often wonder why parenting has become so difficult, especially in comparison to previous generations. Some may even suggest that today’s generation is weaker because they struggle with things that previous generations found effortless. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The world is simply different, and parenting has evolved accordingly.
Here are some of the biggest challenges that parents face today:
The Explosion of Screen Time
Gadgets are now everywhere, and screen time is becoming increasingly engaging and addictive. Unlike previous generations, parents are now responsible for controlling their kids’ screen time, and it takes a lot of willpower and creativity to keep kids from spending their entire day binge-watching their favorite shows.
The Lack of Free Play
Another challenge is the lack of free play, especially outdoor play. Children today don’t play as much as they used to, and many parents have replaced free play with organized sports or structured activities. However, free play is critical for a child’s brain development and helps them learn important skills like conversation, problem-solving, and social interaction. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recognized the importance of play in child development and has even suggested that pediatricians should prescribe play for kids.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
The COVID pandemic has also presented a significant challenge for parents and children alike. The pandemic has been called a “worldwide stress test,” and it has impacted every aspect of our lives. While I initially believed that our kids would be fine with the right support, research now shows that the pandemic is affecting child development and mental health. It has been particularly challenging for parents who have had to juggle working from home, homeschooling, and childcare.
How have family dynamics changed during the Covid-19 Pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people of all ages in different ways, and children are no exception.
For teenagers, the pandemic was particularly challenging as they need more freedom and time with their peers. Being on lockdown prevented them from enjoying these experiences, which could impact their mental health and social development.
Younger children, such as toddlers and preschoolers, had to adapt to online classes, which may not be the ideal learning environment for them. They thrive on 3D, in-person experiences, which are difficult to replicate online.
However, regardless of age, it’s important to create connections with children. Toddlers and young children crave being with their parents, while older children and teenagers may push their parents away, but they still need their parents to listen and connect with them.
The pandemic has brought a lot of changes and challenges for children, but one thing that remains constant is the need for connection and support from their parents. It is essential for parents to recognize this and find ways to support their children through these difficult times.
How Important Is ‘Connection’ For A Healthy Parenting?
Parents need to take the time to connect with their children without any agenda or task list. They must listen to their children without judgment and be emotionally and mentally healthy to provide adequate support. Unfortunately, many myths make parenting difficult and add a lot of burden to parents. For instance, parents believe that children should learn to read by the age of three, causing unnecessary pressure on both children and parents.
Many parents start teaching their kids how to read at an early age, taking time away from playing and connecting. This approach affects the parent-child relationship and makes kids feel like they never measure up to adult expectations. Unfortunately, this mindset stays with them even as they grow older.
As a society, we must remove these myths and provide parents with the right support to ensure that we raise emotionally and mentally healthy children. Being present with our kids and removing the pressure to achieve unrealistic goals is the best approach to supporting children’s mental health and development.
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Our Modern Society Is Raising WEIRD Children
In our modern society, children are often raised in a way that leads to isolation and overscheduling. As parents, we tend to segregate our children from adult activities and send them off to playrooms or give them screens to interact with. This is in contrast to the natural way of evolving into adult activities.
An interesting acronym for our modern way of raising children is WEIRD, which stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. While each of these is good in itself, we must ensure that they don’t come at the expense of losing out on nature and segregating our children.
In my book, “Toddler Talking,” I talked about how boosting language and brain development in the first three years of life can be implemented without taking time out of what we’re already doing with our children. Kids learn all the time, whether we realize it or not. Mealtimes, cleaning up time, taking out the trash time, stuck in traffic time – all these are opportunities for learning.
Instead of overscheduling our kids, we should involve them in age-appropriate chores and mealtimes with the family. This helps them feel needed in the family and makes a positive contribution. In doing so, we can raise well-rounded and confident children who are prepared to take on adult responsibilities.
Being a good parent doesn’t mean being perfect. It means being a “good enough parent” who is willing to make mistakes, learn from them, and be a positive role model for handling emotions. Dr. Donald Winnicott’s quote still rings true today, as children need parents to fail them in manageable ways so they can learn to live in an imperfect world.
Remember, your worth as a parent is not tied to your child’s academic achievements or extracurricular activities. You are enough as a person and as the parent your child needs. Your child needs moments of true connection and experiences of being loved, and that’s what matters most.
Are you struggling to handle your child’s behavior? Do they seem angry or anxious? Is it affecting relationships in the family?
Are you working harder than ever to meet your child’s needs, but you still feel exhausted and powerless to improve their struggles?
Improve your child’s mental health and build happier relationships using the science-backed Triple P Positive Parenting Program.
Positive Parenting for Better Behavior and Mental Wellness is a 3-day live virtual seminar series based on the Triple P Positive Parenting Program.