Raising a child this day in age is tricky, the world we live in now is so different to the one we were raised in. As millennials, we grew up in the technological revolution and were born in a time when tech was much more basic- but by the time we reached secondary school things like mobile phones and home computer usage was becoming widespread. Modern parenting can be an absolute minefield just because things are so different today than what they were when we were kids, here are some of the challenges you’ll need to overcome.
In our generation growing up, childhood obesity was practically unheard of. As kids we used to spend so much time outdoors- climbing trees, riding bikes, running around and much more. We used to eat healthy, home cooked meals usually composed of some kind of meat, potatoes and vegetables. This day in age, as parents, many of us are less keen on letting our kids run wild outside, we’re aware of more of the dangers which can make us want to keep them closer to home. With so much fast food, convenience food and other unhealthy snacks on every corner, kids have many more temptations than we were ever faced with. Keeping childhood obesity down involves listening to the advice of your doctor, as parents it’s so easy to be instantly offended and defensive when we’re told our child’s bmi is too high. They might not look enormous, but if their weight is high according to this calculation then they more than likely are carrying too much excess weight which needs to be addressed. Childhood obesity is much more likely to lead to obesity in adulthood, which can lead to a whole range of health issues later on. It can lead to poor self esteem and things like food addictions. Aim to cook more at home, and be aware of extra things your child is eating such as from takeaway places on their lunch break at school. That way you can find ways to avoid it- pack them tasty yet healthy lunches they’ll enjoy, and speak to them about the dangers of fast food and why they should avoid it. Speak to your child’s school and see if anything can be done about children leaving school at lunchtime and frequenting chip shops and takeaways.
Screen time and devices
One of the biggest differences between kids these days and yourself growing up in childhood is technology. We didn’t have mobile phones and tablets, we didn’t even have a computer at home. The TV had four or five channels and that was it- entertainment looked a whole lot different back then. Kids these days grow up with a world of tv, music, books, information at their fingertips, it’s so much more than we ever could have imagined at their age. Screens and gadgets are fun and addictive, we know this even as adults. How many times have you got lost in a scroll hole on Instagram or Facebook, or an hour has flown by as you were playing on an app? It can be even more addictive for kids, with their friends chatting with them on social media, fun and colourful games that are designed to engage. But it’s important to keep screen time under control, it shouldn’t replace exercise, socialisation or other day to day things that kids need to do to live a fulfilling life. Another thing to be aware of is parental settings on their devices, you don’t want them seeing anything inappropriate or chatting to any unsavoury characters. This can always be a worry as a parent since it can be difficult to keep an eye on them 24/7. This article Top Tips For Keeping Children Safe When Using Mobile Phones is a useful read. Educate your children on the dangers online, so they’re aware of what to avoid and can alert you if anything strange happens. The more open you and your child are, the more likely they are to tell you these kinds of things.
Dangerous fads and trends
As a parent, the dangerous fads and trends that can crop up each year won’t have escaped you, and it can be worrying knowing that your child is exposed to these kinds of things. From the cinnamon challenge (which has been shown to be highly dangerous) to eating tide pods to cutting or burning themselves, these ridiculous challenges often spread around children and teens who can end up giving into peer pressure. One of the best things you can do is to be very open with your children, maintain a good relationship with them. If you spend time chatting to them and let them know they can speak to you about anything, they’re much more likely to open up to you rather than just blindly give into peer pressure. Speak to them about the silly things teenagers can sometimes do, and explain how devastating these actions can be. In some cases, they’ve led to loss of lives which have destroyed families forever. All kids and teens want to fit in, so it’s important to explain to them that this isn’t the way to do it. Being on social media yourself and in the know can help you be aware of these trends yourself so you can chat to your children and look out for any warning signs.
Children need discipline, it’s important that they learn from a young age what the rules are and how to respect them, how to treat others and how to treat their superiors (parents, teachers, caregivers, etc). Learning this young helps them to adapt into the system, when they start school they’ll know what’s expected of them, it will help them to fit into a routine and they’ll know how to behave around teachers and other children. Without this, it’s easy for them to lash out, have temper tantrums or display other kinds of behaviour that just won’t be tolerated by society. A good respect for others and the rules could even help to keep them out of trouble later in life. The trouble with discipline is it means something different to everyone, and what’s deemed as acceptable changes over time. In our grandparents and parents generations, children being given the cane at school or a ‘clip around the ear’ by teachers, parents, neighbours or just about anyone was considered highly acceptable. Chances are, even if your own generation you grew up when smacking was considered ok and you might have had numerous smackings or even beatings as a child. Thankfully we’ve come a long way since then, not only is harming children highly frowned upon from a moral perspective but in many places it’s actually illegal. And this is because there are plenty of much more effective ways to teach and discipline a child that don’t involve violence. But you’ll need to work out what’s best for you. Some parents might choose to withhold treats or luxuries to punish bad behaviour, others might have the child write out an apology or send them for a time out either on a step for a few minutes or to their room for a few hours depending on the child’s age. Have a look online as there’s plenty of advice from experts and other parents which might help you to decide the best course of action.