Raising Strong Children
I would like you to go back to the days when you first learned that you would be parents and then held your children in your arms! What were your dreams? Exactly what sort of child and relationship with them did you envision? What do you see and feel when you look at your child and your relationship with them today?
We know you are making an effort, and you are good parents. Because you are on this page reading a blog post to be a better parent. You are trying your best to raise your children. There is no perfect parenting. There is no bad parenting, but there are wrong parental attitudes.
How do you remember your own parents when you were a child? Do you resemble them? Do you want to resemble them? Children are like water; they take the shape of whatever container you put them in. While we firmly believe this, it is important not to discard the genetic traits that our children inherit from us.
Each child is born with a unique temperament. Families with two children may notice this even more. Their behavior can be very different, despite how we behave. In addition, our attitudes as parents while raising them are fundamental. Our children model us in every sense and learn about life. This is not an effortless task.
What is Raising Strong Child?
Have you ever thought about what a strong child is? Is it more important for your child to succeed or be a happy and independent person? A strong child is a child with high coping skills, who can express themselves in any environment, claim their rights, and express their wishes. It is a child who can adapt to every new situation and environment; that is, a child who can survive.
Raising Your Child to be Confident
How does self-esteem develop? At 0-2 years of age, the main goal is to establish attachment. The child’s worldview is that “I am the center of the world, and everyone should keep me safe and happy.” At 2-6 years of age, the main goal is to learn to be successful and independent. The worldview is that I know and can do everything. It is very important to develop a basic sense of trust that parents meet the baby’s needs from infancy, make the baby feel valued, and make the baby feel love and peace when held. The baby should enjoy breastfeeding because it is not only about feeding the baby’s stomach but also about providing emotional nourishment. It is important in this process to give the baby the breast whenever the baby asks for it without making them cry, not to wear gloves, to allow them to suck their hand, and to make eye contact.
It is also important that parents do not look around with anxious eyes because they see the world through our eyes first. If we are anxious, they will also develop anxiety. If the mother has a hormone problem, she may seek professional help.
Around the age of 2, as the child grows older, allowing them to detach from their parents in a healthy way and do everything on their own, but at the same time setting limits, not allowing them to do whatever they want, and teaching them basic habits (sleeping, eating, etc.), helps them feel safe, encourage them to experiment and develop a positive sense of self, in other words, self-confidence.
It is important to give the child flexibility, disrupt their routine, allow them to sleep anywhere when they are sleepy, and help them adapt to new situations and environments. It is important to put them to sleep by reading a book, not to disturb their diet, not to force them to eat, and not to feed them junk food. It would help if you did not make changes from evening to morning. If you are going to make changes, you can do it in small steps.
It is important that parents do not make the child’s life easier; they should not create solutions or give suggestions on behalf of the child. When a child shares a problem, accepting their feelings by saying, “I understand you,” and then asking, “What are you planning to do?” and giving the message, “You are an individual separate from me,” helps them to become independent and increase their self-confidence. You can say, for instance, “Let’s think together.” You can share your experiences with each other. With the role-playing technique, you can bring new perspectives and solutions to different situations.
How Should You Behave While Raising Your Kids?
Our kids are not an extension of us. They are not here to fulfill dreams that we couldn’t fulfill. They exist for their own lives. What we need to do is to get to know our children, accept them as they are, understand them and offer them opportunities to develop themselves, help them choose a hobby (a regular, long-term hobby according to their interests and abilities), give them responsibility, give them the right to make decisions and choices, make them feel that we trust them, teach them to try again when they think they cannot do it and withdraw, and give them examples from our own failures.
We need to make them realize that life is not black and white; it is composed of grays. People are not good or bad. Each of us has good and bad sides. It is important to distinguish between behavior and personality. Instead of saying, “I don’t like you,” you can say, “I don’t like this behavior.” Instead of saying, “You made me sad,” you can say, “I am angry with your attitude.” It is important to teach our children that we can also be angry with those we love.
It is important not to warn them to say “Hello, how are you?” in social settings, to become independent from parents according to their age (such as going to sleepovers, going camping), not to compare the child with others, not to tell them if we are not telling them something new, not to warn them too much, not to control them because children do not know what to do when they are uncontrolled.
If the parents’ attitudes are opposite, this is the biggest problem for the child. The child gets confused. The child does not know what they can and cannot do. Parents’ attitudes must be close to each other. Our expectations from the child must be realistic and not too high. It is necessary to be natural, to include the child in our life.
Establishing Boundaries for the Child
When establishing boundaries with your child, first show that you understand your child’s feelings. If they are angry, you can say, “I understand you are angry.” Then explain and set boundaries. If they try to hit you, you can say, “You want to hit me; you can’t hit me.” Finally, you can offer an alternative by saying, “You can hit the pillow if you want.” By giving the child an option, you help them take responsibility for their behavior. For example, instead of saying, “Finish your meal or no dessert,” if your child insists on eating dessert before dinner, you may say, “When you finish your meal, you can choose to eat dessert, and when you choose not to eat your meal, you will also choose not to eat dessert.”
It is better for the child to praise their effort at the right time and place rather than their success. When they ask, “Did I do well?” it is better to say, “What do you think? I see that you are trying very hard.” It will help the child be internally focused, not externally focused, and increase self-confidence. Children also notice unrealistic praise. If the parent’s perception of the child does not match the perception of the child of society and friends, the child will be disappointed, their self-confidence will drop, and a false sense of self will be formed.
Boundaries are important because children need boundaries. The parents should be the parents of the house, and the child should be the child of the house! According to the system theory, the family is a system, and in the system, the parents should be in a coalition and the children should be outside this coalition and remain the children of the house. There should be a hierarchy, a kind of superior-subordinate relationship.
The entry of mothers into the workforce and the inability of parents to set boundaries because they have less time for their children has led to the formation of child-centered families. Where coalitions break down, and there are no boundaries, children grow up with low self-esteem because they do not feel safe.
Parents should first be happy individually and separately. Then they should be happy as a couple. Husbands and wives should make time for each other; they should hold the umbrella for themselves first. In such families, children are secure and happy.
Spending Time with Your Child
It is necessary for parents to be able to spend time with their children one-on-one. When they play with the child for half an hour a week, without directing or criticizing the child and letting the child lead the play, they can open the doors of the child’s inner world and develop their child’s self-confidence.
Playing should be free and structured. Playing should be one-on-one and on the floor. Toys should be of a kind that will bring out the child’s creativity. There should be a “transition warning” when switching from play to something else. For example, “Our game will end in five minutes.”
The child should receive attention positively. Rather than saying no, they should be told, “Well done.” You can use a positives-notebook, the positive behaviors of the child in a week can be noted in a notebook. It is necessary not to buy or do everything they want. This may cause insatiability. You can use the allowance system to help the child control.
It is important not to say that the child’s personality is like this; they don’t want to do this or like that. By doing so, we dress the child with such a personality.
Anxiety and Self-Confidence in Children
When children’s self-esteem is low, anxiety and fears increase, and obsessions may develop or the other way around. When children have anxiety, they develop low self-esteem, low social skills and academic problems. They may have stomach aches and gastrointestinal problems. They may try to get their parents to confirm the same things repeatedly (e.g., “You’re not going to leave, are you?”). Their anxiety increases when we leave our children unannounced when we make them listen to us by scaring them (e.g., “The police will come”) when we threaten them to leave when we tell them that they are upsetting us. When parents are overprotective, the child learns to look at the world with anxious eyes.
In coping with anxieties, it is important to understand and accept anxieties, make the child find solutions, develop coping skills, and comfort the child. When we get anxious, we tend to control everything. When they ask the same things over and over again, it is important to ask what they think and make them find answers. Humor can be very useful in relieving anxiety. Because when we laugh, all anxieties disappear.
In the normal development process, the obsessive period is between the ages of 2-5. Children can constantly repeat the same things. Repetitions and routines help children understand the outside world. They can predict what will happen next and maintain control.
From the age of 4-5, these obsessions should decrease and disappear. It is very important for obsessions not to be stubborn in toilet training and not to dwell too much on cleanliness. It is important not to feed the obsessions, to accept the feelings by saying I understand you, but not to fulfill the obsessions by letting them cry if necessary. Research results show that crying does not harm children; on the contrary, it relaxes and treats them.
Fears may emerge as fear of strangers around eight months, loud noises, vacuum cleaners, thunder at age 2, darkness, beggars, thieves, police, and separation from parents at age 3-4. At the age of 4, there is a decrease, and at the age of 6, there may be an increase again. Fears related to ghosts, witches, fire, and thieves can be seen. They may say, “There is someone under the bed,” and may not want to go to bed. They may be influenced by the movies they watch and the dreams they see. After the age of 6, fears decrease.
Anxiety may increase as the child’s intelligence level increases. They can see several steps ahead. Fears usually occur during the period when children take important developmental steps. During this period, parents should show more love and trust.
Children may also be afraid when they see their parents afraid of an animal. Scaring children with sentences like “If you misbehave, the needle man will come” can also cause fear. Or real-life experiences such as accidents, burglars, fights, deaths, and traumas (such as divorce, moving, death, and accidents) can also cause children to develop fear. In such cases, it is important to say, “I understand you are afraid; what would be good for you?” to reassure, to help them find solutions, to inform them about what they are afraid of, to encourage them to overcome their fears step by step.
They must receive attention not when they are afraid, but when they are not afraid by saying, “Well done, you are not afraid today.” It may also be good to draw the things they are afraid of, put them in a box, burn the box, and throw it away.
Children should not be exposed to violence, sexuality and fear above their age. Adult TV series should not be on even in the background, and news should not be watched next to them. The screen should be selected and limited as much as possible.
To summarize, a strong child is a child who has strong skills to cope with the uncontrollability and difficulties of life. Since we cannot always be there for them, we need to raise them strong. At the same time, a confident child is a successful child.
It is important to make them feel safe and to watch them one step behind them, to let them know that we are there when they need us. We should not forget that it is not what you do but how you do it and how you feel while doing it. A child who is not confident does not try and does not know what they can achieve!
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