If you’ve ever wondered how little kids learn, watch your little one copy your behavior. This could be a scary thing if your kid hears you hit your thumb with a hammer. It’s heartwarming when you hear your kid call someone “honeycake.” Your own behavior — both the good and the bad — provides a strong model for your child’s behavior, so think carefully before letting loose with a string of curse words the next time someone cuts you off in traffic.
When your little ones are tiny, it’s all about meeting their every need around the clock, making sure they get the nourishment and care necessary to grow and develop. Nurturing continues past babyhood, and it’s a critical characteristic to include in your parenting skills set. As children get older, the way you nurture morphs to include teaching and encouraging as well. When you nurture, you teach your children the importance of love, warmth and empathy — especially when you give it out in big doses. The end result are kids who feel secure and confident, able to learn new things and meet life’s challenges head-on.
Parenting styles generally fall into one four categories: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and detached. Most parents vary somewhat, but you typically choose one of these four styles. Your own childhood, current life situations, finances and psychological health all contribute to the style you adopt as your modus operandi. Authoritative parenting means you have reasonable expectations and enforce the rules while still respecting your kid. As a result, kids usually respond by being well-adjusted and happy. Authoritarian parents are rigid and demanding, which creates kids who are frequently withdrawn, shy or even hostile. Permissive parents lack control and limits. Kids then become irresponsible and disobedient. Detached parents stay removed and disinterested from their kids, which can create kids with both behavioral and psychological issues.
If you rule your roost with optimism, you demonstrate to your kids your belief that people have control over the good things that happen, says a report created for the Research Triangle Institute Center for Research in Education. People who approach life optimistically tend to try harder when presented with a tough obstacle, whereas pessimists often give up. Optimistic parents teach kids to avoid the “victim mentality.” Pessimistic parents may produce depressed kids who experience poor relationships and low achievement as well.
Empathy is a critically important parenting skill, asserts the Research Triangle Institute Center for Research in Education. When you use empathy when responding to your kids, you’re teaching more than that you simply care — you’re also showing them how to share other people’s feelings. This ability is vital for successful relationships as your kids grow up. Kids who are raised without adequate empathy from parents don’t learn this skill. This often makes kids aggressive, defensive and hostile to peers and adults alike.