We all know the phrase, “Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook.”
Well, I’m here to say that it does – in the form of brain development. As an educator, I stay up-to-date on recent findings and practices that researchers and psychologists suggest for children based on brain development.
Child development is my passion, so I enjoy taking the classes and listening to the lectures about it; but that doesn’t mean everyone does, which is okay.
But if you’re on this post, it means you care for the children in your life. That’s what matters most. So, I’m here to give the simplest parenting tips I’ve learned as an educator, parent, and professional that are actually beneficial for kids.
Parenting is 100% not easy. It stirs up my own insecurities daily and it’s hard going to sleep sometimes knowing I’ve had failures throughout the day. This is because I know how my childhood trauma is related to parenting and I cannot fathom imposing that on my child.
But what if I told you that a lot of parenting takes little effort? Things that seem ridiculous, but are healthy for your child to go through?
What if I told you that some things we tend to think of as negative in parenting are actually positive for a child’s brain development?
I am telling you these things, and you’ll see why. So, sit back, relax, and take the easy road (meh, maybe ramp) to parenting.
5 Simple Parenting Tips Anyone Can Do
Let Tantrums Happen
We know our kids. We know what makes them tick, we can sense when a tantrum is about to happen, and we can expect what it will look like.
I used to think that tantrums were a result of something adults failed to do, but that isn’t always the case. Tantrums and meltdowns are VERY normal for children and are actually needed to help rid the body of stress. As long as children are safe and not hurting themselves, others, or property, tantrums need to happen.
And guess what? You can’t stop a tantrum once it’s started. I know I’ve never done it. When a tantrum begins, I think, “Alright, we’re here. Let’s do this.” This is because once a child is dysregulated, they’re not thinking clearly. They’re in no state of mind to hear reasoning, which is normal.
So, what do you do during a tantrum? You make sure you and all your love are there when it’s over. My daughter once had a tantrum and threw all her toys out of her toybox. I sat by the door and let it happen, not saying a word. I stayed nearby to send a message that I was there and her feelings weren’t too much for me to handle. After it was over, she walked over to me, sat on my lap for a hug, and then cleaned up her room. It was the epitome of feeling better after letting it all out.
Give at Least 10 Minutes of Quality Time
This information baffled me. 10 minutes?! Now, I would suggest giving as much time as you can, as often as you can, but some days and some situations just don’t allow it. But, at least 10 minutes of quality time every day is beneficial for children because it gives them your undivided, meaningful attention.
But what constitutes quality time? The easiest way of thinking of it is what can you do that involves consistently looking at the child and speaking with them?
Let the Child Lead
Going off of quality time, one super simple thing you can do is let the child decide what to do. We don’t always have to plan things and have organized activities for children to learn and have fun. Children are very capable of knowing what they’d like to do.
Whether it’s painting, coloring, pretend play with you, or running around outside; kids can be pretty easy to please when it comes to fun.
Recently, my daughter was begging to paint. I grabbed a shopping bag I had lying around, ripped it so the blank side was exposed, poured some paint into a dish, and let her paint. She was thrilled and we painted for at least thirty minutes. It was exactly what she wanted to do and she was able to express herself and what had been on her mind.
Let Children Be Bored
Going off of play even more, it can be good for children to be bored. We don’t always have to be responsible for keeping them entertained. Children can ignite their own imagination to problem-solve and use their creativity.
A simple phrase you could say to a child who seems bored (or says they’re bored) is, “I wonder what you could do to have more fun.”
Listen to Children
This is a lesson to all, no matter what age. Listening is one of the most important relationship skills. And I didn’t even truly learn it until 27, all thanks to my FAVORITE book, The Rabbit Listened.
Ever vented to someone about an issue and wanted to roll your eyes when they had a suggestion to fix it?
It’s because we don’t always want solutions. Sometimes we want someone to listen and validate our feelings.
Well, children want that too. Children desire the comfort of knowing you understand where they’re coming from and how difficult being in that place must be for them.
Recently, one of my family member’s schedule has been much busier, and my daughter sees them much less than usual. She says a lot that she misses that family member. This tells me that it’s on her mind quite a bit. So, after she said it, I said, “I miss them too. It’s hard to miss people that you’re used to seeing all the time.” With that sentence, her feelings were validated and she was welcome to feel however she needed. In addition, I opened a safe space for her to say exactly what she wanted, whenever she wanted to say it.
Let Children Feel Negative Feelings
We tend to want to keep our kids from negative things, and that’s understandable! Our precious babies deserve to be happy 24/7. Sadly, that’s just not realistic. Children benefit from feeling safe to feel all their emotions without being deterred.
My toddler doesn’t always have the words to tell me how she’s feeling, so I started playing “Guess the Feeling” if our calm down mat isn’t an option. When she’s upset, I ask if I can guess her feeling. She usually says yes, and I’ll offer some different ideas. When she nods at the correct guess, I ask if I can guess why. She says yes, and I tell her what happened before the feeling.
This is important for children because it allows them to figure out where big feelings come from, and when they recognize those big feelings, they can use effective coping skills to calm themselves.
But to get there, they have to feel safe in feeling those feelings.
Let Kids Make Mistakes
Oh geez, this simple tip is hard for me. I am very much a helicopter parent trying to recover. I tend to jump in and offer suggestions to avoid a mistake my child might make that could lead to her getting hurt or having hurt feelings.
In doing this, I am imposing my anxiety onto her. I’m communicating that she can’t handle the world and it’s unsafe – that she needs to fear it (because that’s how I view the world… hello childhood trauma!)
When we recognize that our children are not us, we allow them the opportunity to explore the world and form their own opinions about it. We empower them to embrace who they are, brush themselves off, and move on.
So, what do we do when kids make mistakes? We let them run to us for comfort and prepare them to get back out there.
Simply put, when we take a step back and let a child’s brain do what it was made to do, we actually take steps toward a happy, healthy child – which is, in essence, the whole point of caregiving, right?