The extensive use of ubiquitous electronic devices calls for parents to embrace technology and adapt to new parenting styles. That is if they wish to raise smart kids, ready for the 21st Century. It involves curving parenting lives around technology and learning new skills nonexistent only a decade ago. Otherwise, there is a risk of sounding irrelevant before Generation Alpha and a bulk of Generation Z kids, who are true digital natives.
Millennials and a handful of Baby Busters and Baby Boomers form the bulk of parents today. They are forced to weave their way through tech-parenting like never before. All were raised by parents who knew little or nothing about technology.
A few of the following parenting styles should kickstart your quest on how to raise kids who are smart in the 21st Century.
1. The Early Start
Plan ahead and start early. To do this, adjust our lifestyle to suit parenthood as soon as babies start popping out. Nurturing should start right from the day of birth in order to create a concrete foundation. Because of extensive exposure to technology, babies today are learning stuff early and fast compared to their grown-up siblings and parents.
It is easy to assume they are unaware of the environment and stuff around them until they are five years or so. On the contrary, they recognize faces, voices, smell and test very early on. They will sense movement, colors, and objects placed around them in the very first year.
They take everything in and use them as building blocks for the future. For example, they will assume it is fine when parents are absent at home day in day out. They will assume it is okay when parents scream at each other all the time if that is what they do. Or they will learn that two people can stay together happily when parents are usually happy. Be prepared to set a lasting example from day one.
They will also assume it is normal to bury yourself in your smartphone if that is what you do. They see this from the first year!
2. Embrace Technology
The new babies meet technology the minute they cry for the first time. The cameras, the flashes, and all the tech-driven medical equipment fascinate them immediately. They realize soon, this is part of life.
Redesign your tech knowledge to learn the tools the little fellows crave. Otherwise, smartphone and other tech devices will parent them. The more parents learn tech, the more likely they will discover what works and what derails the little fellows as they mature.
Talk to them about technology the moment they are ready. You will know it is time when they begin asking for your smartphone to play games.
Starting with Generation Z, and now Alpha, technology is at the forefront of everything they do. It is a compulsory activity and in no way will it go away.
Kids queuing up in stores are not complaining but rather are happy they have time enough to delve into social media. Those hanging out in open fields are not engaging in sports activities but busy on smartphones [Not cool I Know]. But that is when you come in again.
They engage in social media interactions like their lives depend on it, and sadly, you are not going to meet them on any social platform. You are lucky if they want you to. While Xers and millennials are tailor-made for Facebook, the Zs and Alphas are open to more audio-visual oriented YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram platforms. It is because that is where their peers are.
Your job as a parent is to get ahead of the game and let them know the pitfalls that lie ahead when the tech is misused. The children should not let technology, and phones, in particular, interfere with other aspects of life. For example, they should not use phones when doing house chores or during meal times, and so shouldn’t you.
They should also be open about what they read, view and exchange online with friends, and report anything inappropriate, coming from their peers.
They need to be educated about the dangers of electromagnetic fields and know their brains are still growing and are prone to the effects of radiation.
3. The Happy Parents
The innocent baby is born into a world full of multiple complexities. It so happens, the first people they interact with happen to be parents and family around them. These will make a lasting impression on them.
Parents today are caught sandwiched between growing responsibilities and parenting. By the end of the day, they are left tired and devoid of a relaxed mind to cheer up the little fellows.
It is understandable but not necessarily right. These kids need to learn happiness early on. If you intend to raise smart kids that are happy, try to choose your priorities right.
4. Quality time
The hustle and bustle of life today keep the multitasking parents away from home most of the day. Nannies are thus entrusted with many parenting tasks. While nannies are a good thing, the touch and feel of real parents can never be equaled.
It cements parent-child bonding and you will discover behavioral patterns and anything peculiar you will miss out by staying away. The closer and more a parent hangs out with children, the better they bond and
The kids below five will definitely embrace good or bad manners this early. Use these years to instill values in them that nannies are possibly not capable of.
Daddy time too is especially crucial and should never be underestimated. Since moms are usually available most of the time, it is the fathers that need to create more time.
5. Watch Your Tone!
Good parenting styles do not involve screaming at young kids. Voices should be kept low when interacting with them. If you must, take it somewhere else. Most importantly, do not scream and abuse children out of anger for whatever reason. It leaves them insecure and may grow up with low self-esteem. This affects their roads towards innovative and smart adults.
Children are always learning and will annoy you now and then. But that is no reason to get hyper.
In any case, they may never understand the mistakes they have done until they are much older.
6. Stick to Schedules
You have to develop a routine by doing stuff at the right time. Children grow up better knowing everything is planned. This helps to fight off behavior arising from irregular activities such as picky eating.
For example, waking up early in the morning and having the chores done on a timely routine, is a sure way to groom responsible children. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be ready at regulated hours on a daily basis.
Second, time for meals should be respected and not messed up by other activities, like cell phone usage. Parents should set an example by putting mobile phones aside.
Kids too should have a right to let the parents know they are doing wrong if they use cell phones during a meal. There should be no double standards.
7. Teach Values
From the word go, children need to learn behavioral tenets which have guided the morally upright people around the world. They should learn honesty, humility, generosity, and love, early on.
Above all, they should learn to be considerate of the feelings of others who are offended by their actions and learn to say sorry. Most of these tenets were taught in homes and Sunday school in the days gone by, and thankfully, are still emphasized in a few places.
As a whole, however, society has evolved, and new parenting styles seem to be taking the place of righteousness and religion. Religion helps groom conscience, a fact of life that is fast eluding society today.
Conscience allows the kids to know the difference between right and wrong. For example, religion teaches that killing, stealing and coveting add up to bad choices. In the same vein, honesty, kindness, generosity, and respect makes a good person. Children bought up without conscience grow up unaware of the responsibilities to themselves and those around them.
8. Teach Work
Children should begin learning the responsibilities of life when still young. Let them do the little chores at home and somehow will appreciate the value of work. Let them do utensils, clean portions of the house, etc. They will not be intimidated or embarrassed when the time for real work comes, later on in life.
When we keep kids away from work, we are bound to raise children who are indifferent to work.
9. Praise and Correct
A parent is a guardian angel designed to put the children right. Teach them about the wrongs and rights of life but do not expect them to be perfect, because, neither are you.
Kids should be praised when they do the right stuff and should be cautioned them when they err. While at it, you do not need to be harsh. Still, you must be firm while correcting them. When they understand from the seriousness of the matter, they will avoid it next time around. Even if they fail to learn fast enough, you have to exercise patience and correct them again and again.
10. Beware of Negative Habits
Restrain from indulging in habits that will confuse and redirect children away from the right path. Habits such as smoking, alcoholism, arguing and fighting, especially before the little ones will instill in them the same traits. The children will most probably embrace these habits and become abusive themselves during teen and adult life.
Instead, educate them about the consequences of these and similar habits and how they should stay away from them.
11. Let Them Play
Children grow up wanting to touch everything and roaming everywhere. That is our plan in life anyway. Parents are however driven by fear to control these adventures. Yes, many unwanted things can happen to children out of excitement. But they do these out of pleasure and excitement.
Get out of the way and let them explore the world as they wish. It should be a pleasure to see kids discover the world on their own.
Give them space outdoors to allow them to play. This stimulates both the physical body and the mind, one of the pathways to being smart!