By Jacqueline B. Hill, LISW, ACSW, MPH
Purdue University Calumet
ATLANTA, GA. Childbirth practices like other aspects of
family life are molded by the society of which the mother and baby are a part.
In Western nations childbirth has advanced from home/family centered births to
free standing birthing centers.
The most important preparation
for parenthood takes place in the context of the parents’ relationship. Expectant couples who are unhappy and have
difficulty working out their differences continue to be poor problem solvers
with unrealistic expectations after the baby is born. (Cowan and Cowan, 2000;
Currant et al 2005).
During the first two years of
life children develop close ties and attachments to caretakers and a sense of
self. At this point parents need to
provide constant supervision, enforce safety rules and explain the reasons
behind them. Parents should praise
children for following rules and in doing so, encourage them to remember and
Parents should know their
child’s temperament by now and should approach child rearing based on the
child’s personality, activity, distractibility or curiosity and the level of
monitoring required. This is also the
time to eliminate dangers in the home like easy to reach chemicals, guns,
medicine containers, colorful liquids and sharp objects.
By age two, most children have a
speaking vocabulary of around two hundred words. These words mostly refer to objects and
commands. They will learn rules that
include not yelling at others, being a good listener and using the appropriate
tone of voice. Language learning and literacy development are linked.
Sensitive, patient and caring adults use additional techniques that promote
language skills. When children use words
incorrectly or communicate unclearly, such adults give helpful, explicit
Remember; if children are able
to use language to express their feelings of happiness or unhappiness, fewer
outbursts occur. By watching parents
manage their feelings, children pick up strategies for regulating their own
behavior. When parents rarely express
positive emotions, dismiss children’s feelings as unimportant, or have
difficulty controlling their own anger, children have problems managing their
own psychological adjustment. Parents
prepare children for difficult experiences by describing what to expect and
ways to handle anxiety by offering age appropriate solutions.
When given regular feedback,
children become sensitive to praise and to blame. Teach kids empathy (feeling
with others) and pro-social, altruistic behaviors. Teach them how to comfort their friends and
to understand the perspective of others.
Teach them how to accept responsibility for their actions and to accept
consequences. You want them to
experience failure at an early age in order to develop coping skills. Social
experiences along with cognitive development contribute to emotional
understanding and self regulation. Cognitive development means changes that
occur in intellectual abilities including attention, memory, imagination,
problem solving, creativity and language development.
Angry and punitive parenting
disrupts the development of empathy at an early age. When parents are warm and encouraging and show
sensitive and caring concern, children notice this behavior. As children reach middle/jr. high school age,
they will have a range of emotions and situations that will require strategies
to manage crises. They will need skills
to analyze how thoughts and emotions affect decision making and responsible
behavior. At the same time they are beginning to evaluate how others express
emotions toward them and what should be done during these interactions.
Teach them not to bully, not to
join others in taunting, teasing and tormenting other children. Control their exposure to negative
information that may come from media events, web access, misogynous lyrics in
music and urban legends. Adolescence is
a difficult time and the parent-child relationship changes because of the
amount of time children spend with parents declines dramatically.
Despite these new concerns,
child rearing becomes easier for parents who established an authoritative style
during the earlier years. Reasoning is
more effective when children recall consistency in their parents’
behavior. They know what to expect with
regard to compliance. When parents
communicate openly with children and engage in joint decision making, monitor
from a distance, and offer support, children begin to respect parents’
knowledge. They will know how to navigate through adversity.
Applying what we know will
encourage us to experiment and provide exposure to a rich social environment
and build upon young children’s natural readiness to learn.