If you find parenting stressful right now, you aren’t alone. A survey found that parenting stress levels have remained higher following the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So what are the main parenting challenges right now, and what can we do about them? We’re here to provide some answers to help solve some of the problems of modern-day parenting.
Parenting Challenges and How to Handle Them
1. Sleep Routines
Do you recall those blissfully quiet hours that you get to relax before bed? If the answer is no, it’s no doubt because you have a child who isn’t going to bed on time.
At the opposite end of the scale, you’ll have some children who insist on 5 a.m. being a perfectly normal time to wake up.
Dealing with sleep problems is a challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. Start with a rigid routine each evening that will help your child wind down. Avoid sugary food and screen time an hour before bed.
And buy a child-friendly clock for their bedroom to show them the correct time to wake up.
2. Fussy Eating
Last week your child liked spinach, and the same vegetable caused a major dinner-time meltdown this week. Child fussiness is frustrating and one of the more significant challenges of parenting, but it’s a relatively common problem.
Children often use food fussiness as a means of control rather than a specific dislike of food, so make dinner time as relaxed and fun as possible, and don’t pressure your child to clear their plate.
Always eat together as a family at the dinner table so that you can act as a positive role model.
3. Aggressive Behavior
Aggressive behavior is frightening, but the best way to handle it is to remain calm and try and get to the root of the problem.
For many children, aggression appears because they lack the communication skills to express their frustrations. That’s something you can work on with your child.
Demonstrate alternative ways of handling anger, such as taking your child for a walk or giving them some downtime with calming music.
All parents deal with tantrums, and there is one rule to remember. Never give in to a tantrum, as you will reinforce that behavior and face the same problem in the future.
Stick firm, give your child some space (but make sure they are physically safe) and allow the tantrum to run its course. And learn to spot the warning signs of a tantrum, as this will help diffuse a situation before things escalate.
5. School Problems
A sure sign your child is unhappy at school is if they start to invent minor illnesses like stomach aches before you leave the house. Whatever the situation with school, your first step is to speak to your child’s teacher.
Ask for their opinion on how your child is coping and set aside some regular time to talk with them about your child’s academic and social progress.
It’s also worth finding out whether your child is using a phone at school or with friends, as unmonitored time online can cause a wide range of mental health issues in children. Sign up here for information on iPhone monitoring.
6. Balancing Your Time
Most parents have to balance a demanding full-time job with all the unpredictability of parenting.
And it’s not always easy. Remember that you can’t do everything and try and focus on quality rather than quantity of time.
When you aren’t at work, put down your phone, switch off your emails, and set aside some one-to-one time with your child. Even 5 minutes of bedtime reading is a great way to fit in some quality time at the end of a busy workday.
You should also talk to your employer about whether you can incorporate flexible working into your job. Not everyone can do this, but it’s always worth asking the question.
7. Controlling Anger
Children aren’t the only ones who get angry; as parents, raising children can often have us seeing red! If you want to raise responsible kids, first look inwards.
If you feel angry, the key thing to remember is not to let your child witness it, as you are their most important role model. Count to ten and leave the room to get some space.
And remember to focus on your health and well-being too. Anger is often a sign that you’re experiencing higher-than-normal stress levels.
8. Communication and Listening
Your children will get most of their communication and listening skills from you. But as adults, we aren’t always skilled communicators!
Work on ways you can improve your communication with your child. If they are small, lower yourself to their level so you can maintain eye contact when talking, and use easy-to-understand and factual language.
When they talk to you, repeat (paraphrase) what they said so they understand that you are listening effectively.
9. Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry is natural and often happens when you have children close in age. The most important rule to remember as a parent is to never compare your children to each other (or to other people’s children).
When you are faced with arguing siblings, don’t take sides. Listen to what both children have to say.
Finally, show your children how to handle conflict more constructively.
Ask them a simple question: what’s the best way for you two to resolve this problem? Getting your children to actively resolve conflict without asking you to be a referee is a good life skill.
Relatives are your most important network, and you’ll probably lean on family for emotional or practical support when raising children. But it isn’t without issue.
One of the most common complaints from parents is when relatives (usually grandparents) undermine rules you have already established with your children.
Don’t let frustrations fester in these situations. Have an honest and open conversation and see if you can devise a compromise suitable to everyone.
Overcoming Parenting Challenges
Parenting challenges have never been more noticeable than in the post-pandemic era. But while you might feel you’re faced with a never-ending problem, these tactics will help you tackle the most common situations.
For more parenting support and guidance, browse the recent articles in our lifestyle section.