As children grow, they and their families can be exposed to a variety of stresses. Pressures at home, school and in the community can take away from parents’ ability to provide a creative, positive environment. Uncertainties around finances, reward and punishment, social media, peer pressure and many others can create challenges for parents raising their children in a complicated world.
Pediatricians are aware of the physical, emotional and social needs of children from infants to adolescents, and they can provide an objective point of view regarding this issue.
At 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers, our pediatricians and nurse practitioners are experienced with children and parents with many similarities – and differences. Many of them, along with our support staff, are parents themselves with many years of childrearing experience. They can discuss with you the issues that arise and can respond with confidential, helpful advice.
Some starting points for parents on raising healthy, happy children despite the stressors around them:
- Encourage free play at all ages. Maintain basic safety considerations, but allow your child to play at frequent intervals without parental supervision. Allow children to follow their own creative directions away from the TV and tablet toward blocks, books, crayons, dress-up, games and outdoor play.
Example: Set up an “art table” where your child can color, draw and paint without supervision.
- Set aside time to focus on the child – to talk, read, and share family stories – while showing warmth and caring.
Example: Use the hour before bedtime as time reserved exclusively for quiet time with your child.
- Provide consistency in the home through regular schedules and routines so the children know what to expect in the course of the day.
Example: Establish a dinner hour or breakfast time when children and parents can come together to prepare and eat a meal.
- Reward positive behaviors. Teach and strengthen those behaviors you want them to follow, like sharing, good manners, empathy for others. Model good, predictable behavior, and demonstrate respectful communication, rather than harsh criticism.
Example: Teach table manners at meals – how to hold utensils, pass plates, serve themselves, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’
- Allow your child to follow the interests that inspire him or her to explore the world around them.
Example: Show an interest and give positive feedback to your child who prefers dance to organized sports or drama club to parties.
If you are concerned that your child is experiencing too much stress and may be negatively affected, contact a pediatrician to get more insight on what you can do to help.
Sources for articles this month:
American Academy of Pediatrics: Tips for Parents of Adolescents
Pediatrics (Journal): Guidance for Effective Discipline
Everyday Health: How Old is Too Old for a Pediatrician
Wall Street Journal: When Are Your Kids Too Old for the Pediatrician?
Center for Advancing Health: Monitoring Your Child’s Development: Your Pediatrician Can Help