We’ve all heard of tiger moms – the mothers who push their kids hard to achieve academic success and often end up damaging their kids’ wellbeing in the process. As a rule, none of us want to be tiger moms – we want to follow a more gentle way of parenting. We want to be lionesses instead of tigers! Here are some tips on how to turn yourself into the perfect mama lion…
Remember that the first way that your child learns anything is from you – and that learning encompasses a whole lot more than their alphabet and math skills. Observing a healthy family dynamic will teach your child more about the world around them than almost anything that they’ll ever learn at school. Watching you and your partner treat each other with love and respect will help to form their future dynamics with their own partners. Remember that if your partner doesn’t treat you well, your daughter is watching – and she’ll think it’s okay for her future boyfriends to treat her the same way. Likewise, you don’t want your son to end up modelling his behaviour on a male role model who simply isn’t good enough. It’s important to foster a culture of mutual respect, kindness and understanding within your family – from understanding that people shouldn’t be touched when they don’t want to be touched, to learning how to share your belongings. Those early years of development belong to you.
Not everyone loves their school experience – in fact, a lot of the most interesting people in the world found that they didn’t fit in particularly well at high school, so if your child dislikes going to school then it isn’t anything to be too worried about unless you feel that they have an abnormal aversion to going in. If that’s the case, they might be having problems in some of their classes – make sure that you talk to their teachers and that you keep communication with your child to find out what exactly is wrong and how they’re feeling. Most behaviour has a good reason behind it if you listen carefully to find it. Another problem with school can often be problems with peers – you probably remember from your own experiences as a young person that children and teenagers’ friendships tend to chop and change, and although looking back at it as an adult it doesn’t seem like a big deal, when you’re a child involved in those situations then it often feels like the end of the world. If your child is having problems with their friendship group, show them a little extra kindness at home – make sure you’re always around to listen to any woes, and give them the occasional treat like a trip to the mall or ice cream. If your child doesn’t have much in common with their peers then why not try an extra curricular activity like drama club or art classes for them to find some like souls?
More and more young people are suffering from mental health issues at the moment – it’s not known whether this is because they’re diagnosed more often than they were years ago, or whether they’re partly in reaction to the pressures of the current academic system. Either way, our kids are often having a rough time with their mental health and as parents we need to do all that we can to prevent that from happening, and treat it if it does. Our world has a nasty culture of toxic masculinity, which often leads to young men bottling up their feelings until they burst out in an unproductive way – and it also leads to a high suicide rate in young men. Teach your son that being open about his feelings is a sign of strength rather than weakness. You should also make sure that you keep an eye out for any signs of mental illness, like agitation, anger that surpasses the usual teenage angst, and a lack of socialising. People tend to think that depression means being sad and crying frequently but symptoms can also include taking very little interest in activities that you used to enjoy and feeling disconnected from the world. Luckily there are things you can do to treat mental health issues in teenagers – medication is always an option and therapy is helpful as well. Inpatient treatment can work for more severe cases and there are also partial hospitalization programs like www.compasshealthcenter.net/psychiatric-programs/partial-hospitalization-program-php/ that can help young people struggling with their mental health.
Young people often spend a lot of their time devoted to a haze of social media that we as adults and parents don’t completely understand. We may follow blogs (hi!) and use Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, but we often don’t know the ins and outs of sites like Tumblr and apps like Snapchat. In effect, our young people are often living in a world that we simply don’t understand. No one’s saying that you should learn how to use all the apps that you don’t quite understand, but there are things you can and should do to limit your kids’ screen time. First of all, make sure that they don’t have their cell phones in their bedrooms – they shouldn’t need them past 10pm, so you can take them then to charge them over night. Secondly, if they have laptops or tablets in their rooms, turn off the wifi past a certain time in the evenings. Thirdly, be aware that online abuse does happen, whether it’s from strangers or other kids at your child’s school. This is still abuse, even though it might seem obvious to you that it’s ‘just’ over a screen. It can still affect your child badly, so get it sorted out at their school as quickly as you can. Lastly, remember that despite its down sides, technology can often be a great thing – your kids may have friends all across the world, and they’re probably learning about cultures and ways of living that will broaden their outlooks on the world exponentially.