Issues and Challenges

Parenting According to Ages & Stages of Children

Listen to me! Don’t make me angry!" Mujtaba’s mother yelled at him. "I’m not a puppet mom, leave me alone, please!" Mujtaba replied fiercely. 
Have you ever faced a situation like this? If not and you don’t want this to happen ever between you and your child then this piece is for you. 
We all want to be good parents but parenting is a tough job. The moment a child is born, a parent also emerges in its mother and father. I believe we cannot understand the depth of love of a parent until the time we assume parenthood ourselves. This relationship is not parallel to any other relationship and is the only bond where parents see the success of their children as their own and wish them to be more successful than themselves.
Traditionally, parenting is assumed a simple process of raising children with love and support for better development and progress in life, but meanings and concepts of parenting and parenting strategies have totally changed today. Parenting now involves meeting the child's physical, spiritual, social, financial, intellectual, and emotional wellbeing needs that lead to healthy development from infancy to adulthood on a physical, emotional and material level. The children of today are more aware of technology, gadgets, and internet surfing/usage. They feel more comfortable with laptops or mobiles than to have friendly communication or playing outside. In this situation, when a child does not want to change even their position, how can parents work on their physical and mental capacities? If we explore possibilities and recommendations according to the stages of children’s growth and development, it would definitely be helpful.
Diana Blumberg Baumrind, a clinical psychologist, considered a pioneer of subscribing parenting styles, presented the theory about the relationship between parenting styles and children’s behaviour. She theorised that parenting style has direct influence on a child’s personality development. There are various parenting style frameworks discussed in modern psychology literature, of which four are core models, whereas six other models are minor variations of each other. 
The four basic parenting styles are authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. These four styles are categorized by “demandingness” and “responsiveness.” 
Authoritative Parenting
Authoritative parents have high expectations for achievements but are warm and responsive towards their kids. These parents set rules, have bi-directional discussion, provide guidance using reasoning, teach values, and encourage independence. Children of authoritative parents are happy, active, good academic performers, have competent social skills and better mental health. 
Authoritarian Parenting
Authoritarian parents have a high level of control but low responsiveness. These parents demand blind obedience, set strict rules, stern discipline, and employ punishments. Children of such parents are unhappy, less independent, insecure, have behavioural issues and throw tantrums, academically perform worse, and show less social competence. 
Permissive Parenting
Permissive parenting tends to low demandingness but high responsiveness. These parents set fewer rules, are indulgent, and try not to disappoint their children. Children of permissive parents cannot follow rules, have egocentric tendencies, face issues in relationships, have bad social skills and worse self-control. 
Neglectful Parenting
The fourth parenting style is neglectful or uninvolved parenting. These parents have low demandingness and low responsiveness. They do not set rules or high standards, and are indifferent to their children’s needs. Children of these parents are more impulsive, have mental problems, cannot self-regulate emotions, or may even have delinquent behaviour.
Having discussed the four major parenting styles, one also needs to be aware of the contributing factors that may affect the parenting style. Among these are income level, societal culture and norms, parent’s background and education, peer pressures and the child’s temperament. There is no one successful style of parenting but whatever style parents follow, it should be loving, firm, and consistent; good parents change their parenting style according to the child’s age and stage in life. The stages of children are divided into three parts in child psychology: early childhood (the first seven years), childhood (7-12 years), adolescence (teenage) — the most critical period of one’s life.
Early Childhood 
Early childhood needs love, security and full engagement of parents. At this stage, children are growing rapidly and absorb everything from the environment like a sponge. Parents should be focussed on children’s physical health (regular doctor visits, development of fine motor skills, etc.), socio-emotional interactions, adaptive behaviour trends (child’s competence in activities of daily living, especially working independently and utilizing modern technology), cognitive development (language skills, arithmetic, computer use and logic) and communication patterns (should be expressive where necessary, verbally and nonverbally, choose correct vocabulary, etc.). 
At the childhood stage, most children are independent in their daily life tasks but some need a little supervision to ensure completion of their tasks. Parents should inculcate hygiene habits on regular basis, make mealtimes as happy as possible, encourage them to try different tastes and help them to combine their favourite items with healthy edibles. Children at this stage love to listen or tell stories so parents should always try to listen to them with a pleasant mood. Parents are also role models for their children who are learning from their habits, be it physical activities, fulfilling responsibilities, management of financial resources or even sleep habits. It is not wrong if children are using technology under supervision; manage their screen time, encourage them to have physical activities and face-to-face interaction with peers. Guide your child for neat homework and discuss different ideas for small projects or crafts. Talk about kindness and respect and that they should neither bully nor become a target of it.
Adolescence is the most dramatic phase of one’s life. Many changes happen physically, spiritually and socially. Parents should prepare themselves for this stage, as it is perhaps the toughest. As a parent of an adolescent, you should have the ability to have open and positive dialogue to avoid the generation gap. Create rules for them and make your expectations clear. You should teach them about accepting limits, responsibility for themselves and their belongings, assistance in household chores, importance of thinking before action and selecting appropriate friends circle. Allow them enough independence and encourage learning of new life skills, making good food choices, enjoying any physical activity of their choice for at least 60 minutes, helping them to understand peer pressures and controlling emotions in interactions with people, care for their own personal hygiene, ability to earn or spend money wisely and avoiding risky choices. Always have an eye on their online activities and discuss about cyber bullies and sexual predators while helping them manage their online reputation (pictures, posts, memes, content they share). Give them privileges according to their responsibility level, emphasize on family time, discuss social and religious issues, help in their academic choices and encourage them to support a noble cause. In short, help them to establish themselves as individuals in a safe way. 
Here we would suggest a few tips for effective parenting for the readers who can then tailor them according to their own needs. These suggestions will be more valuable if we apply them according to the age and stage of development of a child because not every technique is best for every child.

Many parents would like to raise their children in the right way. But they are unsure of what exactly they should do in order to carry out comprehensive and useful training. Guidance, self-control,  change and exploiting potential are some key aspects of training that every parent should practice.

First and foremost, communicate with your child making time to interact with them no matter how busy you are; listen to them, talk to them, allay their fears and help them try to find solutions to their problems, avoid interrogating and act interested. Your children should find in you not just a protector and a provider, but also a trusted friend and confidant. 
Fish Cannot Climb Trees
Set your expectations according to the capacity of your child, as a fish cannot climb a tree, ever. The concept of differences among individuals should always be kept in mind; what another child is able to achieve does not set the path for your child. 
Respond to Their Needs
You should try to satisfy your child’s curiosity and needs and if it is not possible due to circumstances or the set rules then explain to your child why you did not fulfil their need. 
There Are No Free Lunches in Life
Teach them that one has to work towards their aims and objectives in life. One cannot expect to get anything in life without trying; respect, love and  privileges (screen time, extra snacks, etc.) are all earned. Always encourage your child to keep exploring, testing and learning from their experiences. Model for them how to balance their needs and emotions especially in adverse circumstances, that there are disappointments along the way but they should take the bad with the good. Teach them to take no for an answer because life is not always going to serve up what they want.
It is imperative for all parents, no matter what stage or age of your child, to provide a stable home environment, avoiding spouse conflicts in front of them, creating honesty, respect and mutual trust at home because your child’s emotional and psychological wellbeing and their progress in life is dependent on the quality of the nest you provide for them. HH

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