Have you ever thought……..what type of parent are you?
We all want to get it right, don’t we? We bring a child in to the world and we have an innate desire for them to be happy and healthy. When pregnant with my first child, I bought and read just about every parenting book possible, referring to them throughout his early life. After 16 months of trying to be ‘perfect’, spending my weekends pureeing organic vegetables whilst providing my child with books and toys (all with educational purpose), my second child was born. The books were left on the shelf as I let life take the lead; realising that these little people in my life were there to be enjoyed, listened and responded to, but mostly cherished. It was no longer merely about what I thought was right for them, it became about them as human beings. I set about making sure that they understood the boundaries of life, my expectations of being kind, respectful and courteous without imposing too much rigidity on who they were.
The role of the parent is difficult to define and has recently become more and more complex, placing parents in to boxes with labels indicating their particular ‘style’. Whilst formed from psychological theory, it has become somewhat of a branding, providing a positive and negative spin on how an adult’s beliefs and expectations are transferred to their child:
- Snowplough parents clear every bit of difficulty from a child’s path
- Helicopter parents hover over their offspring and become too involved in their life, typically taking too much responsibility for their children’s experiences and, specifically, their successes or failures (http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/what-is-helicopter-parenting/). Helicopter and snowplough parents are currently being blamed for creating a generation of children unable to cope with failure
- Outsourcing parents pay experts to do all the more tedious and unpleasant aspects of raising children. In the USA, this includes paying for potty and toilet training programmes
- Tiger parents prioritise academic and musical success over self-esteem and happiness
- Free-range parents allow children more freedom and independence – by letting them play alone or walk to school alone. This is a potentially high-risk strategy as it beings into question child safety and child protection
- Attachment parenting involves co-sleeping, breastfeeding, baby-carrying and constant loving care
Evidence from Vanderbilt University (https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2013/12/types-of-parenting-styles-and-how-to-identify-yours/) reaffirms four recognised parenting styles, each with its own characteristic and each bringing about different reactions in children:
Authoritative parenting is widely acknowledged as the most effective and beneficial parenting style for children. Authoritative parents hold high expectations of their children, but temper these expectations with understanding and support for their children as well. This type of parenting creates the healthiest environment for a developing child and helps to nurture a positive relationship between the parent and child.
Permissive parenting (indulgent parenting) is a potentially harmful style of parenting. Permissive parents tend to be lenient while trying to avoid confrontation. The benefit of this parenting style is that they are usually very nurturing and loving. The negatives, however, outweigh this benefit. Few rules are set for the children of permissive parents and the rules are inconsistent when they do exist. This lack of structure causes these children to grow up with little self-discipline and self-control.
Authoritarian parenting (strict parenting) is characterised by little open dialogue between the parent and child, with the child expected to follow a strict set of rules and expectations. Authoritarian parents usually rely on punishment to demand obedience or teach a lesson.
Neglectful parenting is one of the most harmful styles of parenting that can be used on a child. Neglectful parenting is unlike the other styles in that parents rarely fluctuate naturally into neglectful parenting as a response to child behaviour. It is important to understand that neglectful parents (and the children involved in the situation) need assistance so that they can get back on track to having a healthy and communicative relationship within the family.
Why am I discussing parenting styles with the Wellington community? Would you believe, it is to introduce the subject of toilet training? In our EY1 classes, we have 64 delightful Wellingtonians, some of them dry, some of them not, some of them ready and some of them not. The subject of toilet training can be an emotive and sensitive one as many parents see being nappy-free as a celebration of development and maturity in their child. To this end, many parents put pressure on their child and indeed anyone involved in their care to reach this goal as quickly as possible. Often, and very sadly, this is driven by the parents’ desire rather than the child actually being ready.
Consider: Is it really that important to be out of nappies at the age of two? Does it mean that a child is more intelligent if they are dry before others? Does it give an indication that they will be more successful in school, and later in life? Does it convey to the world that the parents of a dry child are better at parenting than the parents of a child who is not? In short, no, it doesn’t. It just means that particular child was ready earlier. Just that, nothing more.
Children are able to control their bladder and bowels when they’re physically ready and when they want to be dry and clean. Every child is different, so it’s best not to compare your child with others. Bear in mind that most children can control their bowels before their bladder.
- By age one, most babies have stopped doing poos at night
- By age two, some children will be dry during the day, but this is still quite early
- By age three, 9 out of 10 children are dry most days – even then, all children have the odd accident, especially when they’re excited, upset or absorbed in something else
- By age four, most children are reliably dry during the day
It usually takes a little longer for children to learn to stay dry throughout the night. Although most learn this between the ages of three and five, up to one in five children aged five sometimes wet the bed. (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/potty-training-tips.aspx)
What are the clues?
You can try to work out when your child is ready. There are a number of signs that your child is starting to develop bladder control:
- they know when they’ve got a wet or dirty nappy
- they get to know when they’re passing urine and may tell you they’re doing it
- the gap between wetting is at least an hour (if it’s less, potty training may fail, and at the very least will be extremely hard work for you)
- they show they need to pee by fidgeting or going somewhere quiet or hidden
- they know when they need to pee and may say so in advance
Is your child ready? If not, then I urge you to allow them to be ready in their own time. If your child is showing signs of readiness, there is a wonderful opportunity coming up when you will have a break for two weeks in December. Please do discuss how to prepare for this with your class teacher or come and see me, or Yuki – we’re more than happy to meet you. My personal advice: do it in their time, do it with humour and be prepared for LOTS of washing!