‘I’m a parenting expert – there are key rules to raising your child right’

As wonderful as parenting is, it can also be challenging.

Nobody knows how to do it perfectly every day, which is why tips are always welcome. Recently a parenting expert shared the answers to the questions repeatedly cropping up within the parenting community on TikTok – including those discussing parenting guilt.

All has been revealed after a study was conducted by Parenting for Brain, which involved collating the most commonly asked queries under #parentingquestions on TikTok, and establishing which topics parents seek support with the most.

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According to Pamela Li, Editor-in-Chief and expert at the parenting wellness brand Parenting for Brain, TikTok is a great way for struggling parents to feel connected to others. She said: "Facing the day-to-day stresses of parenthood can often result in people feeling anxious – particularly if they’re first-time parents or perhaps don’t have a solid support system.

‌"Engaging with those in a similar situation can help combat this anxiety by creating a sense of camaraderie and community, reducing feelings of isolation and allowing mothers and fathers alike to find comfort in the fact they are not alone and that how they feel is normal."‌

‌The data exposed the key discussion points included how children use technology, how to discipline them correctly and how to combat parenting guilt.

Wanting to know if others felt guilty about how they parent their child proved the most common query related to validation on TikTok, appearing in one-fifth (21%) of posts touching on the topic.

‌Pamela Li said: "Parents, especially mothers, tend to struggle with guilt if they believe they aren’t spending enough time with their child. However, the amount of time you spend with your child doesn’t automatically determine how good of a parent you are. Focus on the quality of the time you spend together instead. Connect with them, ask about their day, support their emotional needs – that’s the stuff that matters."

On the flip side, while most posts conveyed parents’ guilt about not spending enough time with their little ones, others sought advice on the best way to prioritize personal time. Of the queries that discussed routine, over half (57%) focused on how to find personal time as a parent – either to get chores done or simply have time to rest and recoup.

Pamela added: "Alone time is something every person craves, yet it is one of the hardest parenting challenges to overcome as you have someone else that you’re responsible for at all times – especially if you’re a single parent or are alone for significant portions of the day.

‌"As long as you ensure you have quality interactions with your child, you shouldn’t feel guilty for making time for yourself. In fact, it’s recommended to do so that you don’t become burnt out and so that you can make sure you’re in the best condition you can be while parenting.

"In the same way that you might schedule a half-hour to help with homework, carve out a non-negotiable slot just for you. If this means you need to have a time-saving meal that night or leave reading a bedtime story to your partner, so be it."

Another common question that circulates is about how to respond to a child who refuses to follow instructions, as this appeared in almost half (40%) of queries discussing discipline. Pamela explained discipline in this instance will only be successful if a three-component system is implemented.

She said, to begin, parents must work to build a supportive relationship with their child to ensure they see them as a respected and caring caregiver. Then, they should introduce positive reinforcement and adopt a "caught-being-good" attitude, by praising good behaviour rather than just focusing on punishing or pointing out the bad.

‌She also recommends allowing natural consequences. If your child refuses to go to sleep, let the struggle of waking up in the morning teach them their lesson about staying up past bedtime rather than punishing them for a mistake they don’t understand they’re making. This way child knows that there are repercussions to their actions and hopefully will start behaving to avoid them.

Exactly half (50%) of the technology-focused questions were about whether children should have parental controls on their devices to filter out harmful or inappropriate content.

Pamela added: "Whilst parental controls can be useful in preventing abusive content creeping onto younger children’s screens, parental controls with teenagers tend to be less effective – especially with social media. Teenagers may interpret it as controlling behaviour, and since they will likely figure out a workaround anyway, your relationship will be damaged without you having achieved your goal.

‌"Instead, try having an open and honest conversation with them, speaking of the potential dangers and advising them on how to stay safe. Start a discussion about why parental filters are important and what you’re hoping to achieve by having them in place – and you might find that they’re more open to implementing them if it feels like a joint decision."

‌One in five (20%) of the age-related queries revolved around what age is best to let a child stay elsewhere overnight, with parents concerned about allowing this milestone too early. Even though the topic often leaves parents torn, Pamela said there’s no set rule for the correct age for a sleepover.

It depends on the child – while some might be ready at seven years old, others might not be until 12.

‌The expert said: "Are they likely to be happy visiting friends’ houses without you staying? Can they do their bedtime routine on their own? Have they expressed excitement about having a sleepover?

"And remember, don’t be angry with them if they change their mind halfway through the night and ask to come home – rather, be proud of them for giving something new a go."

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