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5 ways to sharpen your instinctive parenting skills

Mother connecting with her baby using her parental instinctsFrom the moment your child is born, you will get an influx of advice wanted or not. This advice will come from well-intentioned family members and friends and even acquaintances. These people mean well, although sometimes they may come across as annoying and you’ll feel they are interfering.

Everyone has an opinion and likes to share it with you. It is human instinct to want to help each other out, and that desire also presents as verbal input. It is often assumed that you would welcome advice, and so it is freely given without you having to ask! This despite you politely declining offers. There you have it; alas advice already given.

Once you are a parent, no one is immune to the opinion of others and how they think you should best parent your child. A lot of this advice is indeed very useful, as your child didn’t come with a manual, and those who have parented before you have gained experience in the matter.

How do you know what advice to take on board and what to ignore?

5 ways to sharpen your parental instincts

Remember that every child is different

Your child has his or her own unique personality, temperament, and environmental influences. Thus, although your child will be similar to another child in the same age bracket, he or she will have many different aspects to his or her makeup.

Have confidence in your instincts

I think you know your child best, even as early as when he or she is a tiny baby. Temperament is very evident from birth, and you are the one who will first recognise and adapt to your child’s particular needs.

Find good support

Taking home a new baby for the first time is unnerving for anyone. There is a network of professional support available to you, from the time you leave hospital. You can get help on any matter regarding the general care and health of your infant. You can also obtain helpful advice from family and friends, although some of it may not be relevant to your child or your way of parenting.

Accept advice with gratitude

Most advice is offered with good intentions, so it is best to accept it with gratitude and later decipher what works best for you. Trust in your instincts, in your higher being, as what feels right to you usually is.

Don’t fear judgement – do what you know is right

We live in a society where there is pressure to conform to what we think is expected of us, such as; sleeping in separate bedrooms to our children, letting our baby or toddler ‘cry it out’, or chastising the ‘supermarket brat’. This often goes against our normal impulses. We suppress our inner compass through fear of being judged. Judged that we may be creating bad habits, spoil the child, or cause him or her to develop clinginess or long-term insecurities.

As we know as parents who have an understanding of our children, there are reasons behind unruly behaviour – tiredness, hunger, inability to express needs or be understood, frustrations, disappointments, the list goes on. You know your own child and what the underlining issue may be. An onlooker doesn’t have the insight you do and so, even when meaning to provide assistance, isn’t always helpful. Providing the advisor has positive intentions and is not being critical, it is best to be polite, take what you think may assist you, and leave the rest.

At times, advice can confuse you or downright aggravate you! You think you are doing something the right way, and then someone who has a lot of previous experience (or even just a different opinion) says something, and you either begin to question yourself of feel the fume building.

You may welcome the input, even adjust it a little to your own requirements, or you may carry on as you are, knowing that, even though you are an inexperienced parent, you will learn along the way. There’s no point in parenting in a way that feels uncomfortable for fear of not complying with someone else’s idea, or upsetting the advisor! Your gut feeling will tell you what’s right for you. And, yes, sometimes you will get it wrong. It happens from time to time. Our mistakes are lessons learned which help us improve our parenting skills.

About Kathleen Waddington

Kathleen Waddington is a single parent who lives with her teenage son in Melbourne. She is the author of Parent and Child - The Two Person Family and currently works as a nurse, midwife and hypnobirthing practitioner.

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