Before their first kids are born, parents think they have it all ﬁgured out. But, as we’ve found out, most of us just wing it, muddling our way through each challenge as it hits us, hoping none of the other parents notice that we don’t know what we’re doing. However, just as no two kids are the same, neither are two sets of parents and there isn’t a one-size-ﬁts-all approach to raising children. So we asked three Middle East experts to reveal different ways we can all deal with some of the most common concerns...
Newborn to 12 months
How can I get my baby to sleep longer?
Joanne Jewell: “All babies are different. There are many studies that tell us a child’s sleep is mainly dependent on their genetics rather than anything you are do or don’t do and evidence shows that at six months only 16 percent of babies reliably sleep through the night. However, look at your baby’s sleeping environment, bedtime, time spent napping during the day and whether they are experiencing any separation anxiety from you when they go to bed.”
Andalene Salvasen: “This can happen because of a habit that has been created. If you’re feeding them through the night, they will keep waking up through the night. They do not need feeding at night at this age – their digestive system needs to rest. You can start by reducing the amount of feeds every night.”
Amy Vogelaar: “All babies grow up and sleep through the night on their own, they just do it at their own pace. All your hard work and devotion now, will pay off later, resulting in a happy, secure child who feels loved and has positive associations with sleep.”
Ages one to three
How can you teach your child to share with others at playgroup?
JJ: “Try talking calmly at home, before going to playgroup, about what is going to happen there. Empathise about how it can be hard to share and then give a coping strategy if they ﬁnd it difﬁcult. This will usually be asking you or another adult for help.”
AS: “Playing games at home with mummy and daddy, using sharing, is very effective. Take a toy, play and say: ‘Now its mummy’s turn – good waiting! Now it’s your turn’.
AV: “For many kids, being in a large group of children who are likely to grab your toys off you is a very stressful activity. If your child is having a hard time, consider ﬁnding smaller groups for play sessions, or ﬁnd a friend for one-on-one play and make sure there are enough toys to go around.”
Ages four to seven
How can you help a child who acts out when they get to the school gate?
JJ: “At this age separation anxiety can be more prevalent, especially around times when your child feels they’re going to disconnect from you. If you can ﬁnd time to give them extra connection before and after school – an extra hug or a few minutes chatting quietly – this will help. Keep the routine at home as calm as possible. Talk about how they feel and empathise that it can be hard to say goodbye in the morning.”
AS: “Four-year-olds understand working towards a goal. This is a good time to use an incentive chart to motivate them towards changing behaviour. Explain what will happen when they moves up his chart. The reward should be building memories with mum or dad – not toys or sweets. After every ﬁfth successful dropoff at school, they can claim their reward. And remember to DROP and GO, don’t linger.”
Ages eight to eleven
How do you cope with hormonal children heading towards their teens?
AS: “Evening primrose oil is a great addition to the breakfast table to help with those mood swings, as well as a healthy diet. Your parenting style also needs to change with pre-teenagers. It is by no means the same as with under sixes, who need a ﬁrm, assertive approach. For example, ‘I said it, you do it!’ It lays the foundation for respect and allows them to earn and appreciate the freedom they crave as they grow.
“However, you have to move onto the teacher/trainer style when a child is six to 12 years old. Then they earn the right to negotiate. Soon, it moves onto the coaching parent, a style that is suitable for teenagers. Here, you would use a more questioning approach, wider boundaries and less rules, allowing children to contribute suggestions for consequences of behaviour.