Whether you are a new parent or one with many children, it seems that parenting advice through the years changes drastically.
Whereas decades ago it was considered to be acceptable to let babies cry themselves to sleep, nowadays leave your child crying and you’ll face the wrath of both parents and non-parents.
So how can you make sense of the world’s trickiest and most important job, raising children?
Keeping up with the latest psychological studies that offer science-backed parenting advice is one way of staying ahead of the game.
Here are eight of them, see whether you’ve been doing it right or wrong all these years. As you will notice, some of these science-backed pieces of parenting advice seem obvious while some others are quite eye-opening.
1. Parents reap what they sow.
Many modern parents tend to put their child’s needs before theirs, this is called ‘child-centrism’, where the child’s well-being is the top priority. There are some, however, that believe this could lead to selfish and ego-centered children in later life.
A study in 2013 found that parents who were more child-centric were also happier, more positive and had fewer negative feelings. This refutes the claim that over-investing in children is somehow harmful, whilst confirming that putting others before yourself is more rewarding and contributes to feelings of well-being.
2. Sticks and stones can break bones.
Using harsh words and bad language towards children does have an effect, says one study conducted in 2013. The study revealed that by using strict verbal discipline and harsh language with their children led to worse behavior from that child.
The same was true whether that child had a close bond or not with their parents. Although parents may believe that if their bond is strong this allows them to be freer with their language, the results do not support this.
3. Intense mothering is dangerous.
A study carried out in 2012 showed that intense mothering could be bad for the mother’s well-being. Intense mothering is where the mother believes that she is the only one who can properly raise and look after her children, and puts them on a pedestal where they are sacred above all others.
The study showed that this kind of mothering is not sustainable and leads to depression with the mothers having less satisfaction in their lives. The mother was more likely to experience negative mental health issues.
4. Regular bedtimes.
We as parents think we know why it is important for our children to have a regular bedtime. But did you know that sleeping at a set time each night actually improves a child’s cognitive development?
The study revealed that lower cognitive scores in tests directly related to irregular bedtimes, whereas higher scores indicated regular sleeping patterns. The children tested were around the age of three, indicating that this could be a sensitive period for cognitive development. The study also showed that the earlier the children got used to a regular sleeping time the better.
5. Don’t use the TV as a babysitter.
The ubiquitous box in the corner of everyone’s home could be contributing to poor maths skills and attention spans in children, according to the American Academy of Paediatrics. Their study showed that preschool children that watched more than two hour’s television a day had a worse performance at kindergarten.
Not only this, but increases in viewing time showed decreases in motor function, vocabulary, number knowledge scores, and classroom engagement. It also led to increased victimization in the classroom. The study showed that although children that viewed educational programs broadened their knowledge, positively affected their attitudes towards race, and increased their imaginativeness, their attention was negatively influenced by cartoons and fast-paced non-educational entertainment with highly visual graphics.
6. Let partners help with the housework.
One serious bone of contention between parents is the housework and who does it. This typically causes friction between the parents and children to worry when they argue and don’t get on. By doing the housework together, you can avoid these arguments and live in a clean and tidy house, better for everyone.
The study that revealed this simple piece of parenting advice showed that reports of marital quality were higher when there was a fairer division of labour in the house, particularly when the father took on his fair share. The study also showed that women prefer to perform their chores with their partner, rather than on their own.
7. Exercise is linked to increased academic performance.
It is generally accepted that exercise can be good for physical and mental health, but the exercise in children has been linked to improved academic prowess.
A new study found that children who increased their physical activity also showed an increase in their academic performances across several disciplines, including English, Maths, and Science. This increased performance also manifested itself in better results in exams when the children were older. And even more surprisingly, girls fared better in science subjects when they undertook more exercise.
8. What makes siblings so different?
When children grow up with the same parents, in the same environment and experience the same things, you would expect them to have similar personalities. But research has shown that a pair of siblings has no more in common than two strangers. So why is this?
It is not a matter of genes but it does actually appear to be the environment, which despite earlier thoughts, is different for all siblings.
Although they share the same environment, their relationship with their parents is different, they have different experiences at school, and they have different friends, see different people outside the home, and so on. These experiences all go to make each sibling an individual in their own right.
What other pieces of parenting advice would fit this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.