The word child rearing refers to the method used from birth through adulthood to bring up a child. How child rearing is achieved will rely heavily on cultural factors and how parents make choices on such complicated issues as whether the mother should work and the acceptable forms of discipline for a child.
There is no “right way” for anyone to raise a child. Parents raise independent and happy children around the world effectively using a wide range of methods. Study after study has shown that the secret to effective child rearing is parental care and engagement, rather than any one parenting technique.
Studying these problems is part of degree programs in health and human services, especially those focusing on challenges faced by families.
Global Differences in Child Rearing:
Once they have an infant, there is not a guidebook given out to parents. Instead, depending on the part of the world in which they live, children are raised in very different ways.
What kind of “different methods”? Take a look at these examples, taken from recent Business Insider, National Public Radio and TED stories.
Childhood is heavily institutionalized in Norway, with children at the age of one attending state-sponsored daycare.
Kids are independent early in childhood in Japan, with children as young as six getting to school and running errands, also in Tokyo. People expect other adults to look out for and protect kids in Japanese society.
“Friluftsliv,” or open-air living, is emphasized in Scandinavian countries. This can be seen, even in wintertime, in the tradition of letting kids sleep outside.
Many children are potty-trained in China and Vietnam, using a whistle, starting when they are only a few months old.
It’s much more popular in the United Kingdom than in the U.S. for children to take a gap year between high school and college. In Finland, children usually score high on educational exams, but do not start school until they are seven.
At dinner time, Italian children frequently drink wine, right along with the adults.
These varieties illustrate that a lot depends on place and community when it comes to child rearing.
4 Steps to More Effective Parenting:
1. Boost the Self-Esteem of Your Child
When they see themselves through the eyes of their parents, kids start building their sense of self as infants. Your body language, your tone of voice, and your every gesture are absorbed by your children. More than anything else, your words and behavior as a parent influence their developing self-esteem.
Praising successes, however small, will make them feel proud; it will make them feel able and powerful to let children do things independently. By comparison, belittling remarks or unfavorably contrasting a child to another can make children feel worthless.
Avoid having comments loaded or using words as weapons. Words such as “What a stupid thing to do!” or “You act more like a baby than your little brother!” do harm just as physical blows do.
2. Catch kids that are good
Have you ever stopped worrying about how many times, on a given day, you respond negatively to your children? You will find yourself far more frequently criticizing than complimenting. How would you feel about a supervisor who, even though it was well intentioned, handled you with so much negative guidance?
The most successful approach is to catch children doing something right: “You made your bed without being asked — that’s terrific!” or “I was watching you play with your sister and you were very patient.” These comments can do more than constant scoldings to promote good conduct over the long term.
Making every day a point of seeking something to applaud. Your affection, hugs, and compliments will work wonders and are always adequate incentives. Be generous with rewards. You will soon find that more of the conduct you would like to see is “growing”
3. Set limits for your discipline and be consistent
In every household, discipline is important. The purpose of discipline is to help children choose healthy habits and develop self-control. They will challenge the boundaries you set for them, but to develop into responsible adults, they need those boundaries.
Establishing the rules of the house helps children understand their expectations and create self-control. Some guidelines can include: no television until homework is done, and no punching, name-calling, or hurtful teasing permitted.
You may want a structure in place: one alert, followed by repercussions such as a “time out” or loss of privileges. Failure to follow up with the consequences is a common mistake parents make. One day, you can’t punish children for talking back and forget it the next day. Being consistent teaches what you expect.
4. Give Your Kids Time
For parents and children, it’s always hard to get together for a family meal, let alone spend quality time together. But there’s probably nothing else that children would like. Get up in the morning 10 minutes earlier so you can eat breakfast with your child or leave the dishes in the sink and after dinner, take a stroll. Children who do not get the attention they deserve from their parents sometimes act out or misbehave because that’s how they’re likely to be noticed.
Many parents find it gratifying to arrange time with their children together. Every week, build a “special night” to be together and let your children help decide how to spend the time. Put a note or something special in your kid’s lunchbox. Look for other ways to communicate.
Adolescents tend to require their parents’ less undivided attention than younger children. Because there are less windows of time for parents and teens to get together, when their teen shows a willingness to chat or engage in family events, parents should do their best to be accessible. Attending concerts, sports, and other activities with your teen interacts carefully and helps you to learn in important ways more about your child and his or her peers.
Don’t feel guilty if you’re a working parent. It is the many little things you do — making popcorn, playing cards, window shopping — that kids will remember.