Dumbleby Forest talks top parenting and not beating yourself up

The internet is full of incredible parenting tips and is a hotspot for parents who need reassurance that they’re doing a good enough job or need some inspiration for alternative ways to parent their child. The first thing we want to say about this is that, whilst this is not a bad thing, it’s also incredibly important to remember that successful parenting means not seeking perfection. No one is perfect and there is no one set way of doing things.

In the volatile world we’re currently living in, we need to teach our children about some pretty uncomfortable topics. Putting yourself in a vulnerable position, as a parent, and broaching uncomfortable subjects with your child is so important. Children absorb information and don’t understand bias so they are actually the perfect audience, and you get the opportunity to create wonderful minds within your wonderful little people.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a few ideas for how to be a ‘top parent’ in the most achievable way possible.

Talk about racism and diversity

There is no getting away from this subject, not least because children will be hearing it mentioned on television and in conversations because of recent events. This is why it is the perfect time to have this conversation with your child and explain what racism is and how important diversity is in the world. Whilst you may not have all the answers, you do need to educate your child on some of the basics. There are some amazing children’s books out there that will help your child to understand diversity. They may then ask questions so here are some conversation pointers:

  • Some people don’t like other people because of the colour of their skin. This is called racism.
  • Some people don’t like other people because of who they love. This is called homophobia.
  • If you hear any of your friends being mean to anyone because of the colour of their skin, or that of their parents, then you should tell an adult because racism is wrong.
  • Being a good person and being kind are two of the most important things. Skin colour is not important at all.
  • If you’re kind you can help to make the world a better place
  • Diversity means living in a world with lots of different types of people in it. Diversity is really important so we can all have a better, happier world to live in.
  • Always remember that love is love and that all love is beautiful.

Be a good role model

Children will copy and repeat any positive behaviours their parents portray. That’s what makes you the perfect role model for your child. By continuously educating yourself you will show your child that there is always room to grow and learn. It’s also really useful for you to share your past experiences with your child – the good and the bad (within reason!) If they see you being vulnerable then they will know this is something that doesn’t carry a label of shame. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is very freeing and, if taught properly, your child will come to understand that vulnerability is a strong characteristic that should be considered a virtue. Listen carefully to what your children tell you and, indeed, what they’re NOT telling you, but are expressing via their body language. Strong leaders listen more than they talk and by teaching your children this they will learn to have respect for others and develop empathy. Set goals and stick to them. This will teach your child about organization and the wonderful feeling of achievement. Praise them, instill strong values in them and that is the epitome of being a good role model.

Read with your child

Reading with your child will enable them to explore other worlds and ideas. Stories provoke emotions, as well as questions and your child will develop their cognitive skills. It also helps to create routine which is really comforting for a child. It’s the best way to get some quality time with your child before they fall asleep. Stories can support children to come to terms with things, such as giving up their dummy, like in Dumbleby Forest.

Boost their self esteem

Confident children achieve more and build better relationships. As well as being a positive role model for your child, you can boost their confidence by helping them to understand that mistakes are normal and are, in fact, a great way to learn. Use positive reinforcement and help them to find a better way of approaching a situation, or doing something, next time round. Be supportive, but realistic. Your child might really love drawing, but might not be amazing at it. Help them to discover what they’re really good at by encouraging them to explore new things that they might love even more. Allowing them to make their own choices will help them to understand about consequences and enable them to feel more powerful and confident in their future decisions. Finally, a great, but difficult, way to instill a sense of self esteem in your child is to let them take healthy risks. Don’t try to rescue them from failure all of the time of protect them too much. This will definitely be more of a test for parents than for their children.

We’d love to hear what has and hasn’t worked for you because the above is not an exhaustive list regarding parenting. Being a parent can feel like a mine field, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself too. As we’ve said above, there’s always room for learning and growing from that learning. You’ve got this.