Thursday, February 26, 2015

PARENTING

In FAML100 this week we are studying the practices of parenting. Last week we studied the principles of parenting. In long-term ongoing studies, out of all the varied parenting styles, authoritative parenting  (note: this is different than authoritarian coercive parenting) consistently shows the best long term outcomes and health, mentally and physically. Spanking is not desirable. There are better ways.

Our teacher posted a link to an infographic showing details. I recommend it. Scroll down a way to see the infographic. We had a number of activity choices and questions to answer. I chose the following:

Q: Your older sibling calls you. “Since you’re the big expert in parenting and families, tell me what I’m supposed to do about my 6-year old son who throws a fit every time we...” How do you respond? 

First I would laugh right out loud (didn't we recently have a conversation and I thought he was the expert?), then commiserate about my own child (grandchild), and reassure my sibling that his 6 year old son (or grandson) is going through a normal stage of childhood.

Prosocial values, like caring for close family, cooperating with other children, and not hurting anyone intentionally can be seen early in some children, but just as often they are not. I would tell my sibling that in my Child Development Class we learned that “many lines of research have shown that children develop their own morality, guided by peers, parents and culture” (The Developing Person, p. 402) and they do so on their own unique timetable. His 6 year old will be fine, mostly because of the examples of loving and kind parents, and grandparents, and even Aunts and Uncles. I pledge to be kind to that 6 year old, especially when I felt like sending him straight home!

During this age children typically become more systematic, objective, and their learning increases exponentially. Before age 5 children are eager to talk and think, but they do not always understand all that is said, and only gradually come to understand things from other viewpoints. Parents’ underlying attitudes and examples are crucial to model the types of behaviors they expect their children to learn. 

The Proclamation teaches: “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.” Children from every ethnic group and every culture benefit if they believe that they are appreciated; children everywhere suffer if they feel rejected and unwanted.

As children’s thinking and reasoning processes develop, their brains are growing rapidly. They are developing a sense of who they are and their needs should be respected. They have learned “I am”—their existence as a distinct person, and they often think they are best at everything. The more we can validate their existence and the wonderful abilities they are developing the happier they become. At this age young children are only just beginning to apply new skills to things in their own experiences—to situations with visible, tangible, real things (not abstractions). They are not logical, sometimes confusing lies and wishes, and forgetting why they are punished.

We also learned in Child Development that at age 5 most children can count to 100, but not until about age 8 can they estimate where on a number line a particular two digit number would be placed. They are just starting to learn to arrange things into logical series and infer or transfer information as they figure out how one fact is linked to another, and how those facts affect them. If John is taller than Jim, and Jim is taller than David, who is taller John or David? Being able to understand and answer these types of thinking tests is part of normal development that can happen at different ages for each child (The Developing Person, p. 352, 356). 

My darling nephew (or grandson) is doing his best to correlate the massive amounts of information he is learning and make sense of it—and his dad (and mom) need to help.

Good caregiving is not achieved by following any one simple rule; children’s temperaments vary, and so do cultural patterns. All children need guidance [and] there are many ways to provide it. Because early childhood is a critical time for teaching moral behavior parents need to establish healthy boundaries and consequences.

Ideally, adults anticipate misbehavior and guide children toward patterns of behavior and standards of morality that develop from within the child’s self, taking into account the unique circumstances of the child, but misbehavior cannot always be prevented. 

 Nevertheless, children’s “brains are especially attuned to their own repeated social experiences . . . [as] the parts of the cortex dedicated to the senses develop,” and research demonstrates that this is a crucial time of brain growth that is heavily influenced by environment and interpersonal relationships (The Developing Person, p. 142). 

When they are engaged in positive activities, problems become less frequent as their minds and energies are directed and involved. Often simple awareness prevents incidents, especially among the young. Almost all children like to engage adults in conversation and activities, and are readily distracted or encouraged to other things if adults watch for warning signs and prevent critical situations from starting.

Elder Quentin L Cook teaches, “How we treat those closest to us is of fundamental importance. Violence, abuse, lack of civility, and disrespect in the home are not acceptable—not acceptable for adults and not acceptable for the rising generation. . . . Regardless of the culture in which we are raised, and whether our parents did or did not abuse us, we must not physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse anyone else. . . .The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes” (Oct 2012, Can You Feel So Now?). 

 It is important to teach and model appropriate interpersonal interactions to children and youth. Hitting is not OK! Name calling is not OK! Unkind words and actions need to stop! What teachers and parents model, children follow.

My advice? "Take a deep breathe, and enjoy!" This is one of the most fun and amazing stages in a child's life.