Raising children is a balancing act that requires parents and adults to gauge children’s limits and freedoms. It is difficult to find the right balance.
Any extreme measure, however, can be harmful.
Gabriel Téllez Jaramillo Pediatrician, Neonatologist, practitioner of Coomeva Private Healthcare
According to the pediatrician and neonatologist, Gabriel Téllez Jaramillo, setting harsh or extreme limits with children may lead to them having negative reactions to regulations. Doing the opposite however, removing limits and the word “no” in their upbringing, may raise them to be adults that are not capable of keeping commitments, establishing boundaries or acknowledging others.
Parents and adults represent both affection and authority, which later manifests in different settings such as at school, at work or in society in general.
It is the daily micro-decisions made at home from which children begin to discover their limits and learn to handle their freedom; a freedom without responsibility, which ends up taking its toll. Those who use their freedom irresponsibly end up reducing the number of choices in their lives and therefore, lose their ability to choose. Parents can instill freedom in their children as a treasure that comes with responsibilities.
Learning during childhood
What are these micro-decisions that parents can take? Dr. Téllez answers this question, “It of course makes sense that depending on the age group, different limits for the commitments that parents have with their children, and children with their parents, should be established, such as: their schedules when they go out, when they return, limiting their TV time, videogame time, etc. The issue of setting limits begins from when they are very little with chores related to taking care of the home, play times, homework or bedtimes.”
Being consistent as a parent by setting basic limits, not just with oneself over time, but also with one’s partner or with close adult relatives, makes it easier to impart the concept of rules in children and prevent the idea of them avoiding responsibilities to grow in them. If agreements are clear, consistent and followed by all, they will also be this way for children and overtime the rule will be interiorized in the child, more than it will be externally enforced upon them.
Current child-rearing practices, however, tend to show a different trend. While the exclusive focus on children has brought a greater awareness to the individuality of each child, it has also created overprotected parents hidden in the form of “excess” affection, which makes children weaker over time.
This trend in raising children has been called “hyper-parenting.” It refers to raising children without limits, without routines, giving priority to the child’s homework and the practice of “child-centrism;” where parents believe they must do everything for their children, preventing them from developing developmental skills on their own.
Even though affection is an important part of a child’s growth, almost as important as food or sleep, children also must experience boundaries, challenges and chores.
Raising a child is an everyday task that requires persistence, consistence and presence. Parents are what most influence children, and as Dr. Téllez explains, it is not healthy to delegate the responsibility of raising a child to schools or to others that have no direct influence on the family and that turn them into confused adults without the tools to be responsible with their freedom.
Parents and adults represent both affection and authority. Being consistent as a parent by setting limits allows for children to turn into responsible adults.
3 years old is the perfect age for parents to begin to strengthen and reinforce following rules and proper behavior in their children.
Five myths of parenting children
- Children do not understand. False: Children can identify the consistencies and inconsistencies of parents and adults
- Saying “no” damages their character False: Setting limits shapes the will of a child and gives them the opportunity to decide.
- Children should not be bored False: Getting bored is part of the process of learning to be with themselves.
- Children only have privileges False: Children can also have chores and respect the rules of living together.
- Children always have priority False: Children must learn to respect what they are told when spoken to by their parents and should have chores.