As parents we often look for ways to do things better and improve on our parenting skills. The pressure is immense to be a great parent. What should be prioritized as key elements to ensure a baby’s optimal development? Let’s first focus on what makes for healthy emotional development in infants. Firstly, enhancing optimal development involves specific interactions or activities with your baby – in other words, there is an element of good parenting that focuses on the baby. Photo by: http://neverphoto.com/ But equally important, there is a component of good parenting that has to focus on you - as women and men. Since you are a unit (a triad – mom, dad and baby), you need to make sure that you take care of yourselves and your relationship too. The perfect recipe (unachievable, I know) is thus an emotionally healthy and available parent plus focused time and interactions with your child. So with this in mind here are five fundamentals that really do make a difference.
- Slow down and spend time in the moment, making memories, with your baby. This is critical because only when you slow down do you make yourself fully available to read your baby’s signals and connect with him or her through play and communication. Resist the parenting rush and don’t multitask every moment of the day.
- Do not compare your baby or compete with other moms in the ‘parenting competition’ – comparing who is the better mother. We are members of the same side – moms doing the best we can. And your baby is not in any race of their choosing. Don’t compare your baby’s skills with the next baby.
- Never say “never” when it comes to parenting. Every time you say never, you set yourself up either to fail when you give in or to judge another parent for doing the so called - forbidden. Usually the ‘never’ is something unimportant like ‘never suck a dummy’ or ‘never use disposables’ or ‘never say no’.
- Value yourself as a mother and resist maternal guilt. You are the best mom for your baby and you are doing a great job of being a good enough parent for him or her.
- Balance your baby’s stimulation and calming activities, ensuring that he does not suffer undue over stimulation and irritability.