Have you recently become a parent for the first time? If so, you might be overwhelmed by all of your new responsibilities. You’re committed to being the best parent you can be, but sometimes, you just don’t know how you’re going to handle all of the obligations that come along with raising a child.
These fears are perfectly normal. It’s important to remember that your role as a parent will change somewhat as your child grows up, and researching the different stages of childhood will make you feel more prepared for the coming years. Here, The Nest of Lakeland shares a few ways you can support your child, no matter their age.
Caring for Your Baby
After welcoming your new baby, your life changed overnight. Getting used to all of these changes will take some time, but trying to stick with consistent changes can make life easier for everyone in your household. The Baby Center recommends aiming to create a general routine when your baby is between two to four months old. You can plan for sleeping and feeding times. However, some babies might naturally start to fall into certain routines before they reach two months, so feel free to encourage a routine earlier if it would work for your family! Remember, every baby is unique.
Yes, babies can be unpredictable, and sometimes, you will have to deviate from your usual routines. That’s totally normal! Remember, creating a strict schedule isn’t your goal — you’re simply trying to establish a sense of predictability for your family so that you can keep your baby happy and know how to plan for each day.
Raising a Toddler
Toddlers begin to develop their own personalities, and as a parent, it can be exciting to see a whole new, expressive side of your child. But your child will also be more mobile, which means they can get into trouble easily! Make sure that your home is a safe place for a toddler and address any potential safety hazards right away. It’s also recommended to sign up for the Pediatric Safety & CPR class at The Nest to ensure you know exactly what to do in the event of an emergency.
Your toddler might also be prone to throwing tantrums. Remember, this is your child’s way of processing their emotions, and while it can be frustrating, this is just a normal part of childhood. To stay calm when your toddler is having a tantrum, speak softly, and keep your reactions to a minimum — a dramatic response can fuel your toddler’s strong emotions.
Going to Elementary School
Your child might feel excited or nervous about starting kindergarten! Not only will they have the chance to make new friends, they will also start learning about different subjects, develop good behavioral skills in the classroom, and begin doing homework and completing fun, creative assignments.
During this time, make sure to give your child a hand with working on their assignments. They will likely have lots of questions, and they might need your assistance with homework. The School Run recommends creating a regular homework routine for your child and setting up a specific “study space” in your home where they can concentrate without distractions.
If you have been a stay-at-home parent for the past few years, you may want to start setting new goals for yourself now that your child is in school during the day. After all, you’ll likely have some more free time than you did before your child started going to school, and you can utilize those hours to advance in your career or pursue your passions.
For instance, if you’ve been considering going back to work but still want to be available for your child, remote work opportunities offer the best of both worlds. Jobs with flexible hours can make a big difference, allowing you to generate an income while still fulfilling family obligations. If you do set up shop at home, just be sure to implement boundaries for yourself and your family.
Supporting Your Middle School Student
Middle school can be a challenging time for younger teens. In middle school, your child will have a greater degree of independence when it comes to choosing their classes, managing their work, and forming new friendships. They might face pressure to engage in risky activities, and because of these new pressures in their life, they may even struggle with symptoms of anxiety or depression.
It’s important to allow your middle school-aged child to figure some things out on their own while giving them guidance when they need it. It can be hard to see your child struggle, but even if they have their guard up, continue making an effort to reach out and show them how much you care.
Helping Your Teenager
When your child enters high school, they may be tempted to rebel. Teenagers are trying to define their own identities, interests, and passions, and part of this process often involves trying to gain more autonomy, despite their parents’ rules. It’s important to find a balance between being strict and allowing your teen to make their own choices.
During this time, your teen might be making major decisions about their future, like which college they should attend, whether or not trade school would be a good fit, or if they might want to move far away or stay close to home. You can offer your teen wisdom based on your own experience to help them throughout the decision-making process.
Connecting With Your Adult Children
Your child has graduated from high school, and now they’re striking out on their own. How can you stay in touch while giving them space to grow and learn as young adults? Sticking to regular phone calls and planning fun visits can help!
Occasionally, your adult child might reach out to you when they’re facing an obstacle or feeling discouraged. Remind them that no one in their late teens or early twenties knows everything about life and that making mistakes is important for their development as a person. There is always something to learn from a tough situation, and setbacks are never permanent. At this age, you and your child can form a genuine friendship and grow even closer — even if they no longer live nearby, your connection can become stronger than ever!
Being a parent is never easy, and it’s okay to feel confused about parenting sometimes. What your child needs from you will change throughout your life, and simply being there for them is the key to developing a close, lifelong relationship. With these tips, you’ll feel well-equipped to guide your child through every phase as they grow up.
Guest post by: Emily Graham of Mightymoms.net
Photo via Pexels