Recently the BBC reported on the key things that every parent should know before they take on parenting.
According to a prominent health expert, families in the UK should have free lessons on parenting. Educational psychologist Zubeida Dasgupta suggested five useful tips for parents to promote well-being in kids.
1 Attach and tune in
Attachment parenting is viewed as the ideal way to raise secure, independent, and empathetic children. Nurture a loving, connected relationship between you and your child by learning to read and respond to your baby’s needs, and providing consistent closeness through touch (cuddles!).
If you and your child are ‘tuned in’ to each other, with good attachment and clear and consistent boundaries, then the child feels safe and can manage difficulties in the outside world. In this way you can raise a child who is confident and caring, and who has a solid foundation for becoming an assured, empathetic adult.
2 Look after your own mental health
Be careful of what can stress you, or make you anxious or depressed. Make sure there is support for you – your parents, a caring partner, good friends, understanding school, or local parenting group. Having a support team makes parenting less lonely and there’s room to relax.
Especially if you are a working parent it can be really difficult to balance bringing-up your children and a career. If we are relaxed and happy, we feel mentally positive, then we can better support and understand our kids.
3 Create space to reflect
As parents we feel a need to fill our children’s day with lots of fun activities, ensuring they can interact with others and learn new thing. However, there is a danger of overfilling their days and putting pressure and expectation on our kids. It is proven that kids need space to grow – to be with themselves and become self-aware.
Try taking your foot off the accelerator and just “being”. Create space in time and in your mind to listen to what your children say, be it verbally, or non-verbally. This encourages children to talk about their feelings. It doesn’t have to be hours, even ten minutes spent in your child’s world – observing, joining in, following their play – will be really beneficial.
Reading books is also a great way to explore feelings – what do the characters feel? By showing interest in feelings and thoughts you help your child to reflect and develop vocabulary for talking about their own feelings.
4 Teach resilience
When you’re watching your toddler struggle to get a shape into a shape sorter, try to resist the temptation to jump in and help them to do it. Instead help teach your child to tolerate frustration, it is something we encounter throughout life so learning to become resilient and deal with it is a good skill.
Resilient children are hopeful and possess high self worth. Because they have developed the ability to solve problems and make decisions they are more likely to view mistakes, hardships and obstacles as challenges to confront rather than as obstacles to avoid.
5 The “other” five-a-day
Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life.
Just like the five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables that keep the family physically healthy, these keep you mentally healthy if you do a little bit of each every day:
- Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
- Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
- Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
- Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
- Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
An extra tip – use KidStart
Financial strain is a significant factor in mental well-being. Using KidStart will enable you to start saving money for your children’s future without costing your a penny.
KidStart also provides useful financial information including managing your family budge and teaching your kids to become to be financially responsible, both important life skills that also aid mental well-being through reducing worry about financial pressures.