Questioning advice before making changes you may regret

We all try to do the absolute best for our children, whether you entered parenthood with your eyes wide open, or never so much as held a child before you held your own.  You may have bought all the books, and even read some of them, but unfortunately, your over tired child did not. 

When our best laid plans just do not seem to be working, the volume of well-meaning support can become overwhelming – and not always particularly helpful!  And it is always prudent to question any advice you are given before making changes you may regret.  Otherwise you may find yourself embracing what seems to be a good idea without any real sense of what it is doing or what you are trying to achieve.  This may be completely unproductive, unhealthy or downright destructive.

Whichever parenting methods you go by, your child needs you to follow it, consistently and with confidence. 

Everyone it seems is keen to offer advice when it comes to raising children.  Sure-fire methods that, in the short term, may even seem to be working.  But you need to ask yourself “At what cost?” 

Childhood is too important to blindly embrace techniques without first considering the rationality or science behind them.  It is then so important that you look for approaches that are rooted in knowledge you trust.  And that sit well with the intentions you have for your child.  

We know more now about children’s growth and development than we ever did before

Research into childhood development and growth has taken massive strides in recent years.  It is then foolish to do something in a certain way simply because that is how it has always been done.  Or because that is what everyone else seems to be doing.  Instead, support your child by seeking to stay well-informed and involved with their progress.  And always avoid being swayed simply by what everyone else is doing.  If it does not feel right to you or for you, then it is not right.  Possibly for reasons you do not understand beyond your gut-instinct.  So, have faith in the fact that you know your child and the needs of your family, better than anyone.

Avoid simply “reasoning by anecdote”

To make any parenting decision based on the anecdotal stories of others is, unsurprisingly, known as reasoning by anecdote.  But without further evidence to back an anecdote up, it is not much better than simply guessing.  So, consider and question any advice that you are given with an open mind. 

Ask yourself about the intentions of the method, the theories behind it and what it seeks to do.  Both in the short, as well as the long term.  Looking closely before you decide that this is what you want for your child.  Only when you become accustomed to doing this can you begin to separate what is right for you, and what is not – no matter how much it is being advocated or endorsed by others.

Look for methods that support growth and development – rather than seeking to control

Following methods that use bribes, threats, punishments, or rewards are seeking to control your child’s behaviours and do little to support their healthy development.  Neither do they manage any underlying issues that are creating the problems in the first place.  So, think beyond the tantalising promised solution and question whether this is helping you work towards better long-term outcomes.  And avoid knee-jerk responses to parenting before they backfire on you, often at the expense of your child’s dignity and self-worth as you seek advice you can believe in.

This session is taken from our course: What Every Parent Should Know

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.   www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk

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