Know your baby!
We all seek to raise a perfect child in order to guarantee their success as well as close-knit parent-child relationships. To this end, we must first find out enough about our child. Adequate knowledge of general and particular attributes of children can help us recognize their needs, abilities and the parenting approaches that should be adopted.
What is positively authoritative parenting?
Parenting methods we have used so far are either the same as those used by our parents or merely cover methods that we have inherited from our ancestors and are used by the majority of people in our society. Have you ever thought of any specific parenting method or technique? Considering that many of us even follow specific cooking and dusting methods at home, it might be really odd to acknowledge we don’t follow any specific or well-established parenting method, and expect to properly manage the most valuable and important aspect of our life with mere reliance on some made-up techniques derived from traditional parenting techniques which have been subjected to minor changes.
The world, however, has undergone massive changes over the last few decades. This particularly holds true for knowledge of parenting techniques and the methods used to raise a capable, responsible, and trustworthy child. We all know that although punishment may still work in some cases, the long-term application of this parenting technique will trigger aggressive behaviors and recalcitrance in children, causing them to lose confidence in their potentials and abilities. When we hear newborns cry, we look for a way to meet their needs. For instance, in such cases, we readily wake up to breastfeed them. If they kick us, we just laugh and kiss their legs, and when they throw punches at us, we happily continue to play with them; but you may wonder why we blame them for their mistakes, stop smiling at them and even grow more and more fastidious as they grow older.
The positively authoritative parenting technique consists of three basic principles that determine proper parent attitudes towards children at all ages:
Kindness, calmness and determination
These three principles are actually attributed that are unconsciously shared by parents with newborns.
In their attempts to find answers to their questions, children usually try to communicate and keep pace with grownups, because humans inherently seek to learn how to communicate with other people, and happiness and making others happy are the sublime goals of man in this life.
As children’s brain develops, they get to know what “no” means. We can’t expect children to obey us unless we can offer better solutions or alternatives that can meet the same needs, and listen to them. a vigilant parent tries to be kind, determined and calm in all parenting stages. These attributes will be discussed in detail in the following sections.
Building blocks of positively authoritative parenting
Only through practical training techniques, rather than theoretical ones, can children learn how to show respect for others. People can’t respect others before respecting themselves in the first place. Thus, Parents must first respect themselves and their own needs.
For example: if you have an appointment with your dentist, don’t adjourn the appointment because your two-year-old child
Self-respect is a lesson we should teach our children. When we respect ourselves, we can remind our children to be determined at the same time. Respect for the spouse and other members of the family including the newborns is of secondary importance. Our respect for newborns could be represented by our attempts to meet their needs, dressing them with tidy clothing and respecting their taste.
Appreciation of beliefs behind each behavior of children
All human behaviors represent a reason that actually arises from beliefs formed in childhood. Knowledge of the beliefs behind children’s behaviors can be used as a means to help them change their behavior. When our children are little, their beliefs as well as their developmental needs and abilities can affect their behaviors. In the previous chapter, it was pointed out that we all have needs, but two basic needs namely “sense of belonging” and “sense of being important and specific” drive us to show many behaviors.
For example: when I realize that my child’s cries and tantrums arise from my failure to involve him/her in decision-making, I will try to help them fulfill this need by letting them get involved in household decision-making procedures
Knowledge progress making pace relative to age
This knowledge is very important. Parents should not expect children to achieve more than they are capable of.
For example: asking a child to solve a 100-piece puzzle while knowing that they can solve a 10-piece puzzle at best, might impair their self-confidence. On the contrary, asking a child to solve a 9-piece jigsaw puzzle and refraining from providing them with a bigger one after they have solved the first one (while knowing that they can solve a 20-piece jigsaw puzzle) might lead to impairment of motivation power in our children.
Contrary to popular belief, this knowledge can’t be acquired by comparing children. In fact, this knowledge can only be acquired through continuous reflection and active involvement in their games (as a playmate).
In the parenting process, both we and our children learn how to hear effectively.
Proper and effective hearing serves as the alphabet of communication. Many people only use type I and type II hearing, but few of us use type III hearing.
Type I hearing: in this type, the individual pretends to be hearing what others say, but actually doesn’t. In this case, we may only remember a few words of the whole message. This type of hearing is sometimes used when our child (usually 3 – 9-year-old) is yammering about something.
Type II hearing: in this hearing type, we hear, listen to and completely understand the speaker but our analysis of the message is mostly personal and based on our mental filters. This hearing type is mostly used when we are listening to a speaker.
Type III hearing: this hearing type is peculiarly used by people who are very successful in family and professional relationships. They do not judge the speaker based on their personal mindset and take the words as the true representation of the message a speaker is trying to convey. “Oprah Winfrey” the most famous media executive and producer across the world, has a reputation for using this hearing type to listen to people and understand their needs and producing TV programs based on the needs and wishes of viewers. The success of many of her television programs is actually attributed to her talent of using this hearing type
In order to have effective communication with our children, we need to learn how to hear them out using type III hearing. This hearing can even help mothers figure out what their children need when they cry and consequently understand how to respectfully respond to their needs.. This hearing type is actually a skill that can be obtained through adequate exercises.
Discipline and Positive Authority
Some parents may choose to use forbearance and leniency as their primary parenting approach. Having already suffered agonies with the strict parenting approaches they were subjected to as a child, these parents decide to create a different world for their children and let them do whatever they wish. These parents provide their children with perfect and hassle-free living standards and try to spare them the trouble of having to deal with difficulties and challenges.
On the contrary, some parents adopt strict techniques or negative authority as their primary parenting approach. These parents even deprive their children of their love and affection to maintain their authority. In these families, all suitable decisions are made by parents and no one is allowed to question their authority. Contrary to popular belief, Positive authority or discipline can’t be achieved either through lenient or strict parenting approaches.
Positive authority helps children learn how to achieve valuable skills, have a positive attitude toward the future, make small and big decisions for their lives, and make the best choices without parental control.
In the positive authority parenting approach, parents neither use excessive leniency to impair children’s motivation for progress nor do they keep a too-tight leash on their children to totally destroy their self-confidence ( as is the case in strict and negatively authoritative parenting approaches).
Millions of parents who have used the positive authority approach to raise their children have concluded that this approach is the best way to empower children with social and life skills.
Trying to focus on the solution rather than punishment
Blame and punishment can never help you solve problems but rather could even cause problems to recur. Suppose that your child has just learned to walk, would you blame or punish them if they fall over when trying to walk?
No, you wouldn’t. In such cases, you would definitely encourage them to stand up and walk again. When they manage to take a few steps without falling, you would even say “good job” to further encourage them. In the early years of their life, children receive help, rather than punishment and blame, when they face problems. As they grow older, they learn how to find solutions to their problems. This topic is discussed in more detail in chapter 5.
Encouragements that aim to help children strive harder, rather than helping them make achievements, could be a source of comfort for children and improve their determination for going on. This kind of encouragement will, in the long run, create a sense of personal development and self-confidence in our children.
Achievement-based encouragement, on the other hand, will cause children to lose their motive for further strive and progress, when they have made an achievement.
In today’s world, many parents use admiration and encouragement instead of blame, causing children to develop a sense of selfishness and arrogance. Encouragement should only be offered in an attempt to admire children for their good performance, decision making or effort.
Children behave better when they feel better
Most of us have felt ashamed or humiliated in parties when we heard our mom say “that was a lousy thing to do” or “I hope you would forgive my child’s misbehavior!”
This is really stupid to claim that we must make children feel ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated if we want them to behave.
Each individual may have a specific feeling in many situations; a feeling that can’t even be understood, defined or controlled by the individual himself. These feelings include happiness, anxiety, fear, humiliation, loneliness, honor, distress, panic, freedom, love, belonging and…
We can’t control our behaviors unless we can recognize our feelings and figure out what really triggers them.
Our baby can hardly recognize himself/ herself, so, it’s our duty to help them recognize their feelings. For instance, we should treat him with love and respect, so they are encouraged to do good deeds.
In order to distinguish positive authority from negative authority and leniency, we must first learn to distinguish between children’s needs and desires.
What is the real need of children?
There is a big difference between children’s needs and desires. The children’s actual needs are usually consistent with what we feel they need and are mostly met by us. But if we try to fulfill all their desires, as we fulfill their needs, we might end up grappling with some serious problems. Differentiation of needs and desires, and adoption of proper approaches towards desires could considerably help us raise successful children
For example, our children need food, a place to sleep, safe attachment, and security. They also need to learn that they are capable as well as important and useful at home. Contrary to popular belief, our child does not need a tablet to play games, a television at their bedroom, a very luxurious carriage, or even a remote-controlled toy car! They may ask us to let them watch TV for long hours when they are only 6 months old, but as we all know, this could impair the proper development of brain parts that are responsible for vision. They may also ask us to let them sleep in our bed at night, but we can actually help them learn to be self-reliant if we make them sleep in their own bed at night. For putting children to bed, parents may sometimes end up having to give their children a ride in the street. For your information, this is just a childish desire. As we all know, children like chocolate. We could either replace chocolate with chopped apple or just enjoy seeing our child becoming obese thanks to the chocolates we offer them whenever they ask us. If you prefer the latter option over the former one, you should yourself for bearing with an obese and unconfident child who feels inferior and humiliated when his/her peers are around
Parents are required to distinguish between the needs and desires of their child (both physical and emotional needs and desires), but as mentioned in chapter I, the real needs of our child are:
Need for food
Need for a quiet and safe place to sleep
Need for hygiene and health
Need for playing
The emotional needs that contribute to the spiritual development of children are:
Sense of belonging and attachment
Sense of inner power
Sense of social and life skills
A positive and determined authority that gives them a sense of dignity
Surely, all parents are well aware of their infant’s corporeal needs and only need some practice to effectively meet all of them. This, of course, doesn’t fall within the scope of the present book. In this chapter, we will learn about four spiritual needs of infants, which can help us direct them towards the right path if they are perfectly met.
What are these spiritual needs and how can we fulfill them?
Sense of belonging and attachment
As for the need for being loved, you may argue that all babies have needs that could only be met through the development of a sense of belonging and attachment to parents. For our babies to develop a sense of belonging and importance, they first need to make sure that they are loved by their parents.
Excessive love, however, may sometimes cause babies to become feeble or effeminate. In other words, sometimes children who are raised at the lap of luxury don’t bother to endeavor for their goals. Parental love for children should not be mistaken for unconditional fulfillment of children’s desires
On the other hand, children who are always blamed and taunted by their parents, grow up with a desperate need for love and affection. Lack of parental love and attention usually causes these children to get a complex about affection and fail to choose the right person to marry in the future.
Children who don’t have a sense of belonging always feel frustrated in their life, and consequently show signs of misconduct in the future
Sometimes we believe that we have developed an adequate sense of belonging and attachment in our children, while our children don’t really believe so. In order to make sure that children will develop a sense of belonging, parents should never deprive them of parental love and affection and take time to meet their needs. Parents are also required to take time to listen to children’s requests and desires, fulfill the desires that can be fulfilled, and empathize with children in cases where their desires can’t or should not be met. Children must spend enough time playing with peers and begin relating with them when they are one year old.
It should be noted that understanding children’s desires does not necessarily mean that they need to be fulfilled. If our baby cries to prevent us from putting them in a carriage, they are actually trying to draw our attention to a desire. But, if we simply ignore them or try to make them understand that their desire is not acceptable and they are not supposed to cry, we have actually deprived them of the sense of belonging. On the other hand, if we can’t tolerate seeing our babies cry and readily hold them in our arms to soothe them, we have actually questioned our determination and should expect to have a spoiled child in the future. what would happen if we put them in the carriage, set before them for a few seconds, and let them know that we really understood how much they wish to get out of the carriage but we can’t really help them with that, but we still love them and take pleasure in talking to them while they are in the carriage? By doing so, we can effectively imply that we really understand them, though we can’t satisfy their desire.
Sense of inner power
The need for this sense is usually developed in children during the first year of their life. Children actually seek to prove their power to themselves and others. In fact, when they vigorously oppose to something or try to do many things all by themselves, or simply show some behaviors repeatedly despite parental opposition, they are actually trying to develop a sense of inner power. Despite complaining of their obstinate children (usually aged 1 – 4) many moms wish to raise independent children and help them build a strong character at the same time.
It should be noted that children begin to discover their character and potentials when they are 12 months old. They actually discover more and more latent potentials and capabilities as they grow older, that’s why they try to do some things all by themselves and oppose some of our decisions. Instead of trying to contribute to the effective fruition of children’s potentials and powers, some ignorant parents may undermine children’s potentials and prevent them from coming to realization.
As parents, we are primarily responsible to introduce newborns’ potentials and capabilities to them and kindly and authoritatively direct them towards the right path of life. Children might end up filling their power vessels with tantrums and recalcitrance if we fail to help them make the right choices. Sometimes we can easily let children take care of some affairs, but we don’t simply because we don’t understand them.
Kasra is a 1.5-year-old boy. He is very energetic and has just learned how to walk. Sometimes he lets go of her mom’s hand on the street and walks away. In such cases, his mom runs after him, holds him in her arms and reads him the riot act. She did so frequently before she realized that her son actually seeks to discover his potentials and abilities. Now she takes his son out for a walk in the park. When they go to a safe place, she lets Kasra freely run in different directions without trying to stop him. On the street, however, Kasra is not allowed to freely run around. After freely running around in some places, Kasra finally managed to differentiate between safe and dangerous places. Thanks to the freedom of will Kasra is provided with, he can freely fulfill his needs without having to throw a tantrum to make his mom let him run around in some places.
Sense of social and life skills
Many parents are concerned with the nutrition, clothing and sleeping conditions of their children. Aside from the afore-mentioned needs, acquisition of social relationship techniques and communication skills that contribute to the development of the sense of importance, are of vital importance. The need for this sense can’t be fully met through the expression of love on the part of parents, that is, children need to learn it through communication with others. This sense actually helps children enhance their tolerance to challenges and difficulties in their life.
How to promote social skills of children
Creation of spaces where children can interact with their peers
Help children learn how to make friends, play with their peers, share toys with them, and observe turn-taking in games, by narrating stories with similar themes.
Help children observe equity at home and show respect for the rights of all family members, for example, if you have three chocolate cakes at home (one for you, one for your spouse and one for your child) and your child requests another chocolate cake after he/she has had their share, you should never give your share to your child even if you don’t have any desire for that, otherwise your child would never learn to show respect for other’s rights.
Use role-playing games to teach children how to observe turn-taking and share their toys with peers. For example, let your child play the role of a mom while you and your spouse play your roles as children. As part of the role-playing, try to make a scene in which you and your spouse wish to go for a walk in the park and show respect for each other’s turn.
When you go out with your child, talk about the feelings of others so your child learns how to sympathize with people other than relatives. Suppose that a child is crying. You can take advantage of this opportunity to give your child a lesson by simply asking “see! That kid is crying, why do you think he is crying?”
If your child has older siblings at home, never try to violate the siblings’ rights in favor of the younger ones. I have repeatedly seen parents telling the older children “You are older! So you are supposed to be more perceptive than your younger sibling! Please get up and let your younger sibling take the seat”. Contrary to your belief, this attitude is actually counter-productive and detrimental for both parties
Use a positive and determined authority to help them develop a sense of dignity.
As a toddler, our children like to imitate their father, mother or those who live with them, and usually take them as a model in their life. For example, they wish to sweep the ground or push the elevator button. As they develop more and more skills and abilities, we can take advantage of every moment of our life with them to teach them how to be competent and confident in their life. We should be patient and just let them take their time when they are busy doing something. As mentioned in the first chapter, your timetable undergoes some changes when you become parents. Before having a baby, you needed to wake up 2 hours earlier to get ready for going to work, but now you need to wake up 3 hours earlier to help your two-year-old son get ready for kindergarten because he wishes to wear his shoes, push the elevator button, and climb the high chair all by himself. Moreover, it might take him about 5 minutes to bid farewell before heading for kindergarten. Intelligent parents, however, know that the extra time they dedicate to their children can be likened to an investment with permanent benefits. In other words, the extra time they dedicate to their children would further increase their chances of nurturing self-confident and dignified children capable of making perfect decisions for their life.
Naghmeh Keshavarz, Psy.
Keshavarz, N. (2021).When you Hatch: Guide for Parents. Kidsocado Publishing House. Vancouver, Canada.
Keshavarz, N. (2019, August 10). How to develop children’s sense of dignity. Kidsocado parenting club. https://www.kidsocado.com/.
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