There really is no easy way to parent, especially when we don't even have all the tools we need to do it effectively!
All we have to go off of is how our parents parented us. We take what we think worked and we repeat that. We take what we didn't like and try NOT to do that. There's a HUGE problem with this model and that is overcorrection!
Have you ever noticed that the cycles just get stuck on repeat? We can see that in the trends of society's youth in each generation. It's like there are generational pandemics of social and parenting norms for both good and bad tactics.
What I don't understand is why on EARTH I was never taught about the psychology of parenting in primary school. I also wasn't taught about general economics, savings, investing, and how to build and sustain wealth... but that's another blog for another Oprah.
Back to parenting. What I WISH they would have taught us before parenting began was the psychology of parenting.
Here are some things I didn't know that have made a HUGE difference in my parenting lately and have created an insane amount of peace and emotional regulation in my house that I honestly never thought possible:
Kids up to age 2: The brain can only focus on objects. Are the objects 3D or 2D? Are they really here in the room even if you can't see it? Is that something I can grab or is it just a picture? What does it feel like, taste like, smell like? If someone moves the object, can I find it again or did it disappear? Should I look for it?
Kids 2-6 years old: The brain is able to start understanding emotions, but only central to themselves. The brain doesn't understand that there are other people's feelings that might need to be considered. This is not on purpose. The brain literally doesn't know how to worry about your feelings as a parent, or their siblings' feelings. They don't know how. This doesn't mean you can't start teaching them this and introducing the idea that others also have emotions, just don't expect them to understand it quite yet.
Kids 7-11: Finally some ability to reason! You've probably heard that age 7 is the age of reason. This is because concrete ideas can now be understood. Time and distance can be understood. For example, "We can go to the store tomorrow," the child will understand that it means not right now and will understand when tomorrow is. There is still a bit of a more central focus on emotions and feelings meaning that theirs are more important than yours. The brain doesn't quite understand the idea of the SuperEgo, which is the idea that they can be a "good kid" by doing certain things considered as appropriate to society. They still operate on more of a natural filling of needs mentality at all costs. This is tough, especially with siblings and in formal settings like the classroom.
12 to adolescence: Now everything starts revving up. We've got abstract thought, complex concepts that can be transfered to other concepts, etc. There are good and bad parts of this. Kids become more impulsive risk-takers. They see themselves as invincible! They tend to think that bad things really can't happen to them, or won't happen to them. There will be a lot of identity exploration and experimentation in this phase, and to push back on this means you don't accept them... which can lead to many other self-esteem issues as I'm sure you remember from your high school days!
Adolescence to Emerging Adult: This is where the brain finally understands character, can see hypocrisy, is able to read people and decide who they want to be and why. This is the time when (even though it may not feel like it) teens use their parents as a home base or baseline measurement to their own life. This is where you as the parent are extremely important. This is why I always say that more is caught than taught. Even when the teens experiment and try new things, they will always return back to you for an example of guidance. If you are anxious, traumatized, stressed, and lacking in self esteem... this is what they will see and inevitably model. THIS IS WHY RECLAIM IS SO IMPORTANT TO ME. This is where you save your kids as they emerge into adulthood. Take care of yourself, constantly be growing and improving and your kids will automatically do the same!
If you'd like some ideas on parenting concepts you can check out my last blog, but I will be creating another blog to tell you how I am handling my kids and their ages and brain development stages to shape my parenting in a more Authoritarian style vs the two extremes of Authoritative and Passive parenting styles.
Meet me here next week and I'll tell you the rest!