Positive Parenting for Elementary Schoolers8 min read
Almost every parent feels a sense of relief when they see their kids fitting in with their peer groups in the neighborhood and/or school. Children need social interaction outside the home environment in order to build their social skills as well as to develop into independent individuals. As kids begin to go to school and interact with new people, they tend to get influenced by them.
However, as a parent, you need to keep in mind that as your child’s social circles increase, he may not want to spend as much time with you as he would have loved to when he was younger. Although you may not immediately notice it, as your child spends more time away from you, your influence on him will gradually decrease. This is why it is so important for you to focus on building and sustaining a strong relationship with your child from the very beginning. Parents need to be an active part of their kids’ lives and build strong foundations which will really help during the teenage years and beyond.
Here are a few tips to help you stay connected with your kid while also positive parenting in the process:
Pay attention to your child’s friendships and peer groups
As we’ve already mentioned, the kind of peers and friendships that your child has will greatly influence who she becomes as an adult. So, make an effort to interact with and get to know your child’s peers. Pay attention to how your child is treated by people she calls friends. Ask your child about her peers and who she connects with and actively listen for important cues.
If you see that your child is being rejected or ridiculed by her peer group for simply being herself, encourage your child to be bold and look for new friends if necessary. Many children can develop an inferiority complex as a result of being badly treated by their friends or peer groups. Tell your child that she does not have to attach her identity to what people say or think about her. Make other adjustments to help your child fit in with her friend groups.
Develop simple family traditions that foster connection and bonding
Get your child involved with simple family rituals like going grocery shopping, car washing and so on. You could put up and decorate the Christmas tree together, or do a monthly house cluttering etc. Plan out activities that you can go about doing as a family; it could include anything from Sunday brunches or date nights with mom and dad. These activities will look different for different families, but make sure to turn them into fun routines that everyone looks forward to doing together. Planning and doing various tasks together will facilitate bonding and also help to create a number of good memories.
Actively teach values
Values and morals are sometimes never openly discussed in many households. But they are the basis for what and who your child grows up to be in the future. Teaching kids core values is crucial and as a parent it is your job to do it the right way. Discuss your family values with your child and remind him to be polite, kind and empathetic towards others. Teach him social skills that will help him as he goes out and interacts with different people. Helping your child to develop into an independent and good individual requires you to put in the efforts from the grassroot level.
Limit the use of gadgets and electronics
In today’s day, with technology advancing so rapidly and everything moving online, protect your kids from getting swept away with the current. Children need to interact with nature and other human beings in order to facilitate healthy growth and development. Electronics and gadgets greatly limit a child’s brain and hinder their cognitive skills. Limiting your child’s screen time or his use of mobile phones and computers will benefit him in the long run. When kids are not addicted to gadgets from a small age, they will have healthier and more productive relationships.
Every parent wants their child to pick up as many skills as they can from a younger age. Not wanting your child to lose out in any potential area is understandable, but keep in mind that filling their timetables with constant classes and activities to the point where they are exhausted by the end of it, is definitely not the answer. Help your child to focus on her academics and a few extracurriculars without burdening her with more than she can handle. Children require rest time and slow days where they can just sit back and play a board game or read a book. Overscheduling your child might cause her a great deal of stress and anxiety as she struggles to cope with everything that she is involved in.
Teach healthy eating habits
With new eating trends emerging almost every day, it is easy for your child to get influenced by his friends and the people around him. Teach your child to eat healthy from the beginning and to not pay attention to what others say about his body. Don’t encourage dieting or not eating well under any circumstance, as this can negatively affect your child. Feed your child plenty of greens and veggies and teach him about the food pyramid. Get your child into the habit of eating enough protein, dry fruits, fruits and healthy fats. You can cut up some apples, carrots or cheese and serve them as healthy snacks instead of the junk food that is so readily available.
Help your child to develop problem-solving skills
Children love it when they get whatever they ask for without any hindrance from parents. And as a parent it can get exhausting to try and negotiate with a stubborn child so it is easier to just give in. However, by doing this you are really not benefitting your child in the long run. You cannot keep giving in to your child’s whims and fancies simply because he throws a tantrum or makes a scene. Teach your child to communicate his wants and needs appropriately, and have healthy discussions about your reasons for saying ‘no’ to him.
Don’t expect your child to blindly follow your orders because that doesn’t do them any good either. Instead, create a space where your child can openly talk to you and have a discussion where both sides explain their stance. Try to help your child to understand your reasons while actively listening to him/her as well. Teaching your child to put forth logical and productive arguments will help him to learn how to negotiate. Sitting down with your child and brainstorming some possible solutions where both sides can come to a compromise and still be satisfied is key.
Pay attention to whether your child’s peer group values academics
There is a wise saying that goes “Bad company ruins good character” and this is extremely true. As your child interacts with her friends in school, there is no denying that she will get influenced to think, talk and act like them. If your child’s friends value their education and academics and actively strive to do well, your child will be motivated to do so herself so as to not feel left out from the group. However, being around friends and peer groups who are only focused on mischief and playing around will pull your child in that direction even if she is a very good student. You need to make sure that your child is interacting with peers who value learning so that she is encouraged to do academically well.
Have family meetings
Family meetings are a great time for the whole family to come together and discuss each other’s achievements, goals, failures, schedules as well as any grievances. It is a good practice that helps your kids know that they are valued, loved and cared for. Create a free space where your child is comfortable sharing whatever is on his mind without fear of judgement or being ridiculed. Make some ground rules where one person speaks at a time, and no one interrupts the person talking. If you already have regular family meetings at your house, then continue doing it and if you have never had a family meeting, consider starting the practice the next opportunity you get.
Stay connected and be available
This is probably the most important tip we could give you. Try to stay as connected with your child as possible. As your child continues to grow and your schedules take independent turns, you might not get as much time with each other as before. Make the effort to spend more time with your child and just hang out whenever you can. Be available and show your child that you will always be there for her no matter what. Make sure your child knows that she can come and speak to you about anything that bothers her.
As a parent, being available and making the extra effort to stay connected with your kids is the best thing you can do to not gradually lose them as they grow up.