Basic parenting principles for promoting your child’s social, emotional and academic development

Here are a few basic parenting principles for promoting your child’s social, emotional and academic development.


Competent parents are those who are sensitive to the interaction between themselves and their children. That is, they learn how to be responsive to the temperaments of their children and the cues that their children give them that they are ready to learn and they use these cues to guide their parenting responses. For example, the parent who notices when their child is getting frustrated and offers just enough support and guidance (without taking over) to give their child a sense of accomplishment. Or, the parent of a hyperactive and impulsive child who adjusts his or her expectations to understand that their child is socially and emotionally younger than other children the same chronological age and needs additional monitoring and support to learn to social skills and to follow through with instructions.

       2.      THE ATTENTION RULE

The "attention rule" is the basic principle behind much of the ways that children learn new behaviors. Simply stated, it is that children will work for attention from others, especially parents, whether it is positive (praise) or negative (criticism) in nature. If they do not receive positive attention, then they will strive for negative attention through misbehavior since that is better than none at all. Therefore, if you want to promote more prosocial behaviors you need to give it attention.


Children recognize their parents' expectations for them much quicker than most people realize. If parents label their children negatively by telling them how bad or incapable they are, the youngsters may come to believe this image of themselves. Therefore, parents need to think positively about their children and project positive images of their future and their ability to successfully cope with situations. Statements such  as, "Let's try again" and "You'll do better next time" and “You stayed calm and patient and that was frustrating” give children confidence to learn from their mistakes.


Parents need to develop an ethical approach to discipline that teaches their children that there are consequences for misbehaving, while at the same time letting them know they are loved and expected to do better next time. There are serious disadvantages to spanking and physical punishment as a discipline strategy and many alternative nonviolent approaches that provide better long-term results for the child’s emotional and social development as well as for the parents’ ongoing relationship with the child.


Parents need to understand, appreciate, accept and adapt to the unique temperament and development of each individual child and to highlight their strengths as well as accept their limitations. By temperament, I'm referring to a person's natural, innate style of behaving and traits such as activity level, mood, intensity, adaptability, impulsivity and persistence.
There is a wide range of normal in regard to temperament traits. Studies have shown
that 10-20 percent of normal children have temperaments which would be considered
"difficult." These are children who are highly active or impulsive with a short attention span and they are much harder for parents to manage. Such personality traits are not related to intelligence, they are associated with uneven neurological development.


As parents try out positive parenting strategies, they may feel artificial or even phony,
especially if it is the first time they have used a particular technique. This awkwardness is a normal reaction whenever people are learning anything new. Don't be discouraged by the apparent complexity and don't expect to feel comfortable immediately. With practice, positive parenting skills become more natural until you will use them automatically.


It is important to remember that it is normal for children to have behavior problems and they are likely to be controlled if they are managed appropriately. Although such problems can't be stamped out, being creative and trying out strategies will make a big difference. Parents should not be alarmed if after an initial period of progress with managing a particular behavior problem, children revert. Progress is marked by spurts, regressions, consolidation and further growth.