The parent of a newborn is thrown into a very steep learning curve. Naturally, their focus is simply on looking after their tiny bundle of joy. But a baby is learning too, even if they’re only a few weeks old.
You are your child’s first guide to the amazing world around them. You help them to understand everything they see and hear, smell, taste, touch and experience. So no matter what your day job is, if you have a child, then you’re a teacher, of sorts!
That’s why creating a positive learning environment is one of Triple P’s five key principles. It helps lay the groundwork for a good relationship between you and your child, and for them to succeed in life.
Be a supporter
Like adults, children of all ages, including teenagers, learn best when they feel encouraged and supported. So pay special attention if your child or teen has just learned to do something new, no matter how small. This helps them to feel good about themselves, and to have confidence in their ability to learn.
As children grow, helping them to learn new skills is a key part of parenting. It starts with things like teaching children to use a spoon and drink from a cup. When children are a little older, they need help learning to do things like do up buttons and hold a pencil correctly. And for older children, guidance is needed not only for practical skills but on how to behave in certain situations (from travelling on public transport to social occasions to family events).
Careful…too many rules can backfire!
We all know this, but sometimes it’s easy for parents to forget that children also need help learning social skills and dealing with emotions. Children, of course, need rules and boundaries. But it’s wise to take a teaching approach (rather than “controlling” one) if a child is misbehaving. A focus on punishment is likely to damage the relationship, and frequently backfires. It’s much more effective to work helping a child to learn and practice the skills they need. This also helps strengthen the parent-child bond.
Yelling and reacting? There are alternatives.
Remembering to focus on teaching doesn't always come naturally to parents, though, especially in a difficult or tense situation. If you think of a scenario where the kids are misbehaving, it’s common for parents to raise their voice, make threats, or issue a harsh punishment. Is this really showing your child what they need to do instead?
Of course, age-appropriate consequences are helpful but they should be combined with a learning approach – clearly showing and explaining to your child the behaviour you prefer.
The thing to keep in mind is this: whether you’re learning new skills yourself or teaching your child, the process is always more enjoyable and effective when you focus on the positive.