All about positive parenting

Positive parenting can boost a child's self-esteem as they are encouraged to have open conversations about their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.

Astha Alang and Parul Sharma
Fifteen-year-old Aarti with her parents at her house in Varanasi in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
UNICEF/UN0591657/Bhardwaj
16 June 2022

It is no wonder that parenting is considered the most important job in the world! Parents anchor children's lives and lay the foundations of relationships, attitudes, and behaviour patterns. How carefully they navigate through the rough waters of childhood determines how smoothly the child will thrive in adulthood.

Every year, June is celebrated as the "Parenting month" to raise awareness about the impact of early childhood protection, nutrition, and stimulation on young children's brains.

Positive Parenting

Many rely on their parents' shoulders, so they must do their job right. But how does one go about it? Well, let's have a look at an example. What would you do if your child lost their essential notebook? Would you scold them for not being careful? Or would you be patient and understanding to help them find it first and then discuss how they may like to take care of their things better in the future? If your answer is the latter, then you are on the right path - the path of positive parenting.

The most important thing for a parent is their relationship with their children. It is that pause one takes before reacting and the thought they put into treating their child with compassion and empathy. Scolding might take the heat off your own head, but the impact it will have on the young impressionable mind is lifelong.

Scolding also underlines that the parent has limited control over her emotions, and they use verbal aggression to deal with this disrupted emotional state. So, in a way, the parent is modelling verbal aggression to deal with crises. As a parent, you may not like to set up such a model for your child to follow.

Positive parenting can boost a child's self-esteem as they are encouraged to have open conversations about their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Particular focus should be given to the first few years of a child's life, as during this time, a child's brain develops at an extraordinary rate. This provides an exceptional opportunity to shape their ability to learn. Storytelling, discussions about day-to-day activities, reading together or walking through a garden are all learning activities.

Part of good parenting is allowing the child to develop their personality through play. Playing, along with being a fun activity, improves children and adolescents' cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being.

What can you do as parents?

The way a child is cared for and nurtured has a significant impact on their general well-being. Parents should listen to their children, show them affection, and discipline them constructively.

Encourage their talents while also accepting their limitations. Have open conversations around pertinent questions like: What is it that they are most afraid of? Do they feel underconfident? Has anyone troubled them recently? Make them feel appreciated, as though their thoughts and opinions matter because they do.

Children who do not receive adequate care and protection are among the most vulnerable people in the world. As a result of poor maintenance, many people, particularly the very young, experience physical, verbal, and cognitive delays. Adults are more at risk of developing behavioural, physical, and mental health issues. The domino effect of insufficient care in one's childhood is felt for generations.

Furthermore, as previously stated, playing is vital, and parents should encourage their children to participate in outdoor activities. Individual sports like running, skipping, and cycling help children improve their strength, flexibility, stamina, and balance.

Playing in a group fosters essential life skills such as confidence, resilience, communication, and dealing with adversity. Convincing children to do so is particularly difficult these days. They would rather play video games or use their phones than play "hide and seek." As a result, it becomes even more critical for parents to limit their children's screen time, educate them on its adverse effects, and encourage them to step outside.

Children who do not receive adequate care and protection are among the most vulnerable people in the world. As a result of poor maintenance, many people, particularly the very young, experience physical, verbal, and cognitive delays.

Nineteen-year-old Radhika with her mother Durgavati Devi at her house in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
© UNICEF/UN0591697/Bhardwaj
Nineteen-year-old Radhika with her mother Durgavati Devi at her house in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh

Caring for the caregivers
 
Caregivers, whether parents, grandparents or other adults, often struggle with their well-being and mental health. Several external factors, together with the responsibility of parenting, usually take a toll on the minds of the caregivers. They care, but are they cared for? 
 
 What is worse is that they keep ignoring the warning signs that have an eventual bearing on the mental health and well-being of the child itself. We need to provide caregivers with the knowledge, skills, and encouragement they require to develop nurturing relationships with their children without ignoring themselves. Every discussion on parenting should involve a solid mental health component that addresses both the child's and the caregiver's mental health and well-being. 

The way ahead
 
Family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks, childcare, and child grants, are required to provide parents with the time they need to care for their child's needs. To amplify this, UNICEF calls on businesses and governments to invest in family-friendly policies to build more prosperous and equitable societies, consistent with Article 18 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
 
We also need to increase spending on dedicated mental health and psychosocial support programmes for children and caregivers, especially in crisis situations. 

It is not easy to take care of a child's needs and provide them with the best possible upbringing. It comes with its trials and tribulations. Does that make it any less rewarding? The answer is a resounding no. Children are the future, and parents help build that future.

Nothing comes close to the significance of a parent's job. Considering the vitality and complexity of the role, it is vital for us as a society to help parents. We help build a positive outlook, mutual support, and empathy for a better society by assisting families.