There are many approaches to rearing a child. Some from the past, while there are modern techniques.
All in all, raising a child can mean different things to different cultures.
It is best to look from the several perspectives and draw a conclusion. For rearing children can be a unique as well as an art for some of us when we know the how to’s involved.
“How should I raise my child?” is the main question that parents ask.
There are thousands of books in the market that talk about child raising. It starts from “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” by authors Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, and other similar books.
Rightly so, because that is when the journey actually begins.
Considering the fact that it is important to take care of the health of the mother-to-be, what the mother eats, feels and does during pregnancy in order to take care of the health of the baby within, the efforts have to start right from the time the child has been conceived.
There is no dearth of information on the internet or in books about raising children. The goal of all these books and articles is to help parents collect all the information required, and to come up with their own principles of rearing a child.
However, there is no one single book that can be called the bible of child raising. The main reason for this being every child is different and so is every person who is raising that child.
With newer scientific studies being published periodically, parents and caregivers try to incorporate these findings into their act of child raising.
For example, there has been scientific study supporting the importance of pregnancy talk. That means it is important for the mother to talk to the unborn. The sound of the mother is supposed to soothe the baby and help form that divine bond between the mother and the child.
Raising a child or raising children is thus, an activity that evolves continuously. It is important to listen to the wisdom of age old practices, inculcate the modern findings and then invest in the child.
The investment here is mainly in terms of time, energy, money and emotions. The returns are in terms of trust, love, and happiness.
Rearing children is given a lot more importance today than it was given a couple of decades ago. Each child’s overall development is considered a parent’s responsibility today.
Parents today are better equipped, in terms of the medical support they receive, in ensuring the birth of a healthy child. The infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates in most of the countries have reduced drastically, thanks to the advancements in medical sciences.
Rearing a child is the procedure of furthering and encouraging the growth and wellbeing of the physical and social, as well as the emotions and the intellect of a child from an infant to an adult.
Rearing children is a process that involves a lot of commitment.
In the initial days, since the little life depends completely on the adult for all its needs, an adult has to always be around.
As time passes by, the physical dependence becomes lesser and emotional and intellectual dependence takes prominence. Hence it is very important for parents rearing children to either provide emotional and intellectual support or guide them to others who can do so.
Spending time with children, and ensuring a healthy social life by providing opportunities for them to mingle with others is also a part of rearing children.
All of these ensure an overall development of the child into a capable adult.
Hence, rearing children for human beings, is a combination of providing for
Physiological Needs (food, clothing and shelter),
Safety Needs (safety and security),
Belongingness & Love Needs (intimate relationship, friends),
and Esteem Needs (prestige, feeling of accomplishment),
so that the child can reach a state of Self Actualization (achieving one’s full potential including creative activities).
The parent directly or indirectly takes care of, or creates an atmosphere to take care of the first four categories of needs of the child from the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs based on The Theory of Human Motivation.
Child Rearing Practices
There is a quote or saying which says that one should not raise your children the way your parents raised you, because they – your children – were born for a different time.
In a changing world, in a world that is filled with people who believe, follow and practice such diverse life styles, the child rearing practices can also vary from generation to generation, from place to place and across different beliefs.
Child rearing practices can vary even within the same community depending on the capabilities of the parents and their exposure to the world outside.
For instance, in a usually strict household where everything is based on the rules of the book, there could be a parent who wishes to try a more liberal and out of the box manner of child rearing.
Child rearing in olden times was the primary duty of the woman. She, with the help of other women in the household took care of every need of the child.
The child then learnt a lot of survival tactics and other lessons from the older children in the community. By the time they turned into adults, they were molded in the way of life of the community.
This has changed drastically over the years since people have moved around and have started living in a more metropolitain environment.
There is no community backup, and the onus of child rearing falls equally on both parents or the parent who chooses to live with the child. They follow practices that they are most comfortable with and whatever suits their lifestyle.
No matter how, and what each set of parents follow, as long as the motive is to ensure that the child grows up to become a good human being, one who loves and respects oneself and others and is able to appreciate the diversity in nature and nature’s creations, that child rearing practice can be termed as successful.
Child rearing practices, no matter what we call it, have to be based on love, understanding, mutual respect, room for creativity, creating empathy, finding joy & happiness and respecting knowledge and hard work.
Raise Healthy Children
“He who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything”. Thomas Carlyle
This quote says it all. Health is the most precious gift parents can give their children. A healthy body nurtures a healthy mind and a healthy mind can manifest a healthy body.
Raise children with a holistic view in mind – body, mind and spirit. Nurture or raise the child love as well.
We, as a world have made immense progress in the medical field. This has resulted in higher life expectancy and better chances of recovery from illnesses.
Unfortunately, all this development has still not reached every part of the world. Also, new conditions have led to newer challenges for people.
On the one hand, there are children dying of malnutrition in some of the countries in the world. And, on the other hand, there is an increasing number of obese children in the developed countries today, then there ever was.
On the one hand, there are so many kids suffering from emotional anxiety and depression. And, on the other hand, there are kids suffering from body shaming and other related issues.
Raising healthy children is a necessity today. It is important to understand that health is not limited to the physical health of the child. It implies physical, emotional and mental health.
Children’s mental health is just as important as their physical health.
When we talk about raising healthy children, we are talking about:
It is important that the parents understand and bring about healthy eating habits at home.
Making sure the child has a balanced meal, with veggies, fruits, protein and whole grains is important. It is also important to reduce eating junk food and unhealthy fast food.
Teaching them to read the labels and letting them know of the harmful effects of eating too much processed food can lay the foundation of leading a healthy life.
Children love to play. Children have to play. It keeps them fit and active.
Physical activity helps in keeping the children happy.
It also reduces the time they spend on gadgets and other electronic devices.
Dealing With Stress
Every child goes through some amount of stress. Teaching them to handle it is an important aspect of raising healthy children.
Parents who regularly engage with their children in different activities of family bonding are more likely to gain the trust of the child to talk about issues faced by the child.
It is important to hear them without passing judgements and then to guide them if possible.
It is also important to talk to the child’s doctor if the parent observes any kind of abnormality in the child’s behavior.
It is common for children to start doubting his or her abilities, looks, talents, self worth etc., as they reach their teenage.
Comments from friends and social media also plays a big role in the children forming their self image. All these things can leave the child with very low self esteem.
Through education, counselling and positive reinforcements, and sometimes through therapy, the child can gain back a normal self esteem.
This can prevent children from going into a depressed state. It is important to help the child look at oneself and others as more than a body.
It is important to build a child’s confidence in his or her own abilities in order to raise a healthy child.
In the case of children who are dealing with health issues, both physical and mental, the parents are usually advised to take the help of medical practitioners and support groups in order to be able to give proper care to the child.
It takes all of these and an unlimited amount of unconditional love to raise a child.
May every parent be able to raise healthy children and may every child be blessed with a parent who can do it.
Every child deserves a healthy childhood.
So to address the question: Child Raising – Is There An Art To It? The answer is that we develop as we go along. While utilizing whatever methods and procedures are available to us the time.
So it becomes an art in the sense that we embrace change and adapt to such changes. And we fashion ourselves to grow the wisdom to know what to do with all that is usable.
Contributors: Deepa Kadavakat and Kazim Abasali