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Maggie Dent’s 7 ways to be a back-to-basics parent

How to be a back-to-basics parentIt is a strange irony that in this information age, some really important basic information has been lost.

This impacts on a parent’s ability to raise children who thrive – who are happy, healthy, strong, kind and capable.

The basics that matter have not changed – only the world has. What children need now is what they have always needed. Aside from food, water and shelter, the primary need of all young children is to feel a loving connection.

Without some of the basics in the early years our children can struggle. We are seeing this in the huge increases over 20 years of the number of kids showing up to school with developmental delays, increased illnesses and psychological disorders.

We need to slow down a little and go back to the basics.

There is no ‘one right way’ to parent but there are some things that the wise among us have always known (and which modern research supports).

7 ways to be a back-to-basics parent

1. Remember every child is a unique miracle – a one off

One of the toughest parts of parenting is working out who our child is – what are their unique gifts and talents, their challenges and flaws? There has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like them.

With respect, we need to guide and teach them how to be the best expression of themselves – whatever that brings. Embrace their ‘beingness’, don’t compare them to others and love each child unconditionally.

2. Don’t strive for perfection – aim for 80 per cent instead

Perfection is impossible and unrealistic on the parenting journey. When things muck up, when your children haven’t eaten any vegetables on one day out of seven, when they didn’t have a bath and you had a bit of a shouty moment, give yourself a break.

If things are only like that around 20 per cent of the time, it’s OK and normal.

3. Go slow. It’s childhood.

Be realistic with your sense of time – children are in the present moment. That’s all there is to them.

Try to keep life fairly routine when they’re little, breathe often and deeply to slow your thinking down, practise mindfulness and deliberately slow down the pace of your life, especially when kids are under three. Hurry = stress.

4. Stress less, mess more

Childhood is often messy, noisy, untidy, repetitive and unpredictable.

If you can allow these things to be the new normal and avoid second guessing every decision you make and enjoy what is – you will stress less and allow your little scientists and explorers a great environment to learn and grow!

5. Prioritise play

There is so much research that proves that unstructured free play, preferably in nature, is absolutely vital to many aspects of children’s development, from their physical aptitude, to their learning and essential emotional and social skills.

Make play with living things, in all its forms, be a priority in your child’s day. Keep it simple and if they’re happily engaged, put your feet up and stay out of it.

6. Get them moving

From babyhood, our little ones are biologically wired to move naturally in ways that enable essential brain development which helps make them strong, flexible, smart and inquisitive.

Avoid ‘containerising’ your children and let them move, and prioritise ‘outside’ time.

7. Sing it loud and proud

Language saturation is fundamental to learning how to talk and later how to read. Nursery rhymes assist with phonological awareness, which is a building block to reading.

Combined with movement, singing nursery rhymes to your children can also help build essential pathways in the brain that help them develop.


Parenting is hard work no matter who you are, how much money you have, where you live or how old you are. There will be days when you will be challenged to the depth of your being but thankfully there will also be many days when you feel ecstatic and overcome with joy in a way that words will fail to capture!

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One comment so far -

  1. Love this, I try to do all these things with my children every day, as a result I have a lot of compliments from passers-by, as they are often seen smiling whizzing to Nursery on their scooters.



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