The Nurturing Parent:
Abuse, neglect, abandonment, violence and abduction … these tragic realities are what many children in South Sudan live with. Sadly, violence and neglect towards children is nothing new … it is deeply rooted in cultural and religious values.
We must nurture our children and parents…it is one of the important things we can do. A parents’ love and caring determines how a child grows up and how a child will eventually parent.
Adults can nurture children’s positive self-esteem by helping them discover what they are good at doing. Part of a child’s self esteem comes from feeling competent and skilled at something they enjoy. By creating opportunities for children to explore different objects, activities, and people … and nurturing those interests, you can play a big role in helping children to be successful and feel good about themselves.
The early years are when children show personality traits and preferences for what they like and dislike. By planning opportunities with children’s unique personality styles in mind, you nurture their positive feelings about themselves.
Nurturing children, building a loving and caring relationship is not always easy. With patience and love – you can do it!
• Treat each child according to their needs.
• Every child needs parents who can notice and appreciate their special qualities. When siblings are involved, trying to treat each equally usually backfires and undermines children’s individuality.
• Focus attention whenever possible, avoiding distractions.
If children want to interact at a time when you cannot be fully attentive, let them know and schedule a time for conversation and/or play when you can focus entirely on them. Children usually know when adults are only half-listening and can feel frustrated, unheard, and at times even unloved when this happens. Listening to children with your full attention helps strengthen their sense of importance and gives the message that you really want to hear what they are thinking and feeling.
• Listen sensitively, avoid (too much) questioning, and describe the situation.
• Children will usually shut down emotionally when parents bombard them with questions. They feel on the spot and pressured when adults probe and inquire too much about their day. Describing the situation is a neutral and non-intrusive approach that leaves room for children to respond in their own way.
• Use “I” messages and try to avoid blaming and accusations. This will allow you to express your feelings about a particular behavior without attacking your child’s character or self-esteem.
• Set limits that are appropriate to children’s age, temperament and stage of development.
When parents have limited time with their children, they may tend to let things go and not set reasonable and necessary limits. Children need to know that you – their parent or caregiver have the interest, energy and authority to set appropriate standards for behavior and the skills to follow through.
Start traditions that feel comfortable and fit your parenting style and financial resources. Traditions provide children with an important sense of belonging. They don’t have to be elaborate in order to be fun or memorable. The most important thing you can do to start a new tradition (or continue an old one) is whatever feels comfortable and enjoyable for both the parents and children. Traditions are also important for teaching children about–and centering them in their cultures.
Take care of yourself so that you have energy and enthusiasm available for your children. It can be hard to find a balance between meeting your children’s needs and making time for yourselves. It is important for you to find appropriate outlets for your feelings of stress, responsibilities, etc., and you need some ‘down’ time to pursue your own interests or just to unwind. Most parents find that even a short break from children can make a positive difference in the way they feel.
Parents need to fulfill themselves as parents, in their parenting roles, and also as individuals with interests outside the family. They need to go places on their own, and to do some things just for themselves. Then parents return to their children refreshed.
When you’re stressed:
• Try to resolve situations before they escalate.
• Take time out.
• Call someone and express how you’re feeling. Ask them to come over and stay with the kids for a while.
• Count to 10 and think, “What do I really want to accomplish here?
• Hit a pillow to release your frustrations
• Play music
• Remember how much you love your child and think about the best way to show that to your child.
Keep your children safe, no matter what!
The best way to keep children safe is to keep them from getting hurt in the first place. Many parents who do cause harm to their children don’t mean to do it. If a parent was neglected or abused as a child, it may be that much harder to change to a more constructive behavior with their own kids. There is an abundance of support and information available to help parents accomplish raising healthy and safe children. There are many ways to successfully manage a child’s behavior. When adults learn to rely on constructive, non-hurtful parenting, both parent and child feel better about themselves. Positive parenting approaches help the whole family to thrive. These approaches can be seen in other aspects of their lives as well. Parents even do better at work and their children are more successful in school.
There are two types of childhood experiences:
• Positive experiences that build strong character and a sense of self-worth and that model a nurturing parenting style.
• Negative experiences that engulf children in parenting models of abuse, neglect, exploitation, and victimization.
The best parenting comes from parents who create an environment that produces experiences that affect the growth of the individual child. The nurturing parent uses a nurturing touch, empathy, empowerment, and unconditional love to ensure the overall health of their child.
Abusive parents who use hitting, belittling, neglecting basic needs, and other actions that lower an individual’s sense of self-worth …or worse, have a negative impact on the health of their child.
Child abuse has a detrimental impact on a child’s self-image, giving them feelings of low self-esteem, which impacts how they will treat others. Children who value themselves and treat themselves with respect show the same behavior toward others. The connection between self-worth and the worth of others is critical in child abuse prevention. Nurturing has been proven to be a positive influence on a child’s self-image and self-worth.
Child abuse is the result of poorly trained adults who as parents and caregivers, try to instill discipline and educate children with the same violence that they themselves experienced as children …because that’s all they know.
Parenting is learned in childhood and repeated when children become parents. The experiences children have while growing up, have a significant impact on the attitudes, skills, and parenting practices they will use with their own children.
What is learned can be unlearned and anyone and everyone can learn good parenting skills. Even parents who are overwhelmed, or alone. The first three years of your child’s life are crucial. Those are the years that your child will develop significant intellectual, emotional and social abilities. That’s when they learn to give and accept love. They learn confidence, security, and empathy … they learn to be curious and persistent … everything your child needs to learn to relate well to others, and lead a happy and productive life. The first three years are the doorway to forever!
Nurturing children is about the way we love them …the way we bring them up. A parent’s love is our children’s destiny. It’s the legacy we give them.
Love Our Children for the way we live today.