Our children grow so quickly.
I know I’ve experienced the grief of watching my daughter grow from that little babe in the crook of my arm into an independent six-year-old who is capable of doing “everything” and is always “right”.
You blink and suddenly they go from crawling to walking to being potty-trained to going to school to making friends and going out into the world on their own.
However, as quickly as our children grow, so do we as parents. We are constantly learning how to shape our parenting styles to accommodate our child’s stage of development.
If we didn’t, we’d stagnate in our parenting and our children wouldn’t flourish. Instead, we evolve as our children evolve.
It’s kind of a cool symbiotic relationship between what our child needs (and how they act) and how we choose to provide it.
Unique Personalities and Needs
As your child grows, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that they have their own unique personality and temperament. No two children are the same in this respect.
During this discovery, you have unconsciously redeveloped your parenting skills around the individual needs of your child.
Your little one may need guidance and feel unsure about themselves, so you guide and lead them. You encourage independence and give praise in order to build their self-esteem and confidence.
Or perhaps your kiddo is intrinsically motivated and very willful. They don’t need a great deal of guidance and leadership from you. So, you help them strive for independence by encouraging their ability to ask for help when needed and continue to praise good deed, actions and traits.
Prior to having my daughter, I worked with Autistic preschoolers. We worked hard to develop and implement programs to aid in life skills such as eating a variety of foods and potty training.
Oh, yeah, I was prepared for motherhood.
Except my child didn’t need any of that. She pretty much potty trained herself when she was ready and developed a very strong opinion on the foods she liked and didn’t like early on.
The parenting skills I thought I needed and the ones I ended up developing are quite different from each other. I let my daughter’s personality guide me to the parenting skills I needed to be an effective mother.
There is a certain fluidity necessary in being a parent. Children cannot thrive on stagnation and our parenting skills must reflect the constant flow of their development.
For example, a disciplinary action at age three may not have the same effect when your child is seven. Likewise, the way in which you address an injury when your child is small (“Let Mama kiss that for you!”) is going to differ when they reach teenage-hood.
(Can you imagine trying to pull off the magic kisses when your kid is thirteen? I’m totally going to try it. I’ll update you in 7 years.)
The great thing about this fluidity is that you don’t even notice that it’s happening. You are always unconsciously redeveloping your parenting skills by being in tune and observing your child as they age.
Take a moment and think about how your reactions have changed just over the past year. I know I lose my mind a lot less now that my child is at an age where she imitates not only my actions but how I react to things.
While I enjoy a good emotional burst from time to time, I do not enjoy when my daughter does it. So I changed my strategy without even realizing I was changing it.
You’ve probably noticed a few parental tactics you’ve changed over time – and you’ll change a few more as your kiddo gets older.
Adjusting Our Parenting Skills
In order to successfully adjust our parenting skills, we have to use our eyes and ears to be aware of what is going on with our child. We have to listen to what they are telling us and showing us.
We must also encourage our child to be their own individual while still being available to them to whatever degree they need us.
It’s the ultimate balancing act of being a mother.
We need to be mindful of when our involvement is needed and when we can back off.
For example, your kid may not need you to be directly involved in their schooling on a regular basis to ensure their overall academic success – but they may need you to be more involved in their social life if they are having difficulty making new friends.
When our kids need us, and when they don’t need us, is about as inconsistent as a McDonald’s milkshake machine. We need to be prepared to step in or to back off on a moment’s notice.
That’s why paying attention to your child is so important. You know your little one well enough to know when something is wrong even when they tell you there isn’t. You know when they are begging for help because they are too lazy to do it on their own.
It’s a constant give and take – and your evolving parenting skills help prepare you for that.
Being a Parent is Like Being a Pokemon
I only use that comparison because I know Pokemon evolve and I wanted to sound cool.
But, seriously, as your child grows and changes your parenting skills will too. As long as you are open and honest with your child, everyone’s skills will mature naturally.
Stay in tune with your kiddo and allow yourself to experience the amazement and wonderment of watching your child develop and expand their horizons as you do the same as a parent.
It’s a beautiful, ever-changing role.
What is one thing you’ve learned as a parent? Leave a comment below!