The challenges of parenthood have a way of making you wiser over time, especially if you’ve prepared yourself for the journey. Social workers build careers around helping people improve their lives, and this knowledge and expertise can certainly transfer over to parenting. While there are different areas of the field that specialize in youth-related issues, all social work revolves around certain concepts and practices that can be beneficial in a child’s upbringing. With that said, here are 5 valuable parenting lessons learned from people while earning their MSW online:

Pressure is Crippling

Many parents have a way of pressuring their child to perform, with the mentality that doing so will push the kid to be “the best they can be.” Although all children will respond differently to this approach, one thing that has been learnt from Rutgers School of Social Work is that pressure can actually have some very counterproductive effects. Sometimes it’s just best to take a more hands-off “let’s see what happens” approach to let a child’s creativity flourish without burdening them with too many expectations.

Encouragement Goes Further than Criticism

Complimenting a child on their strengths and encouraging them is always more beneficial than criticizing them about their weaknesses. Granted, while serious academic shortcomings do need to be addressed in time, pushing the issue with comments that lower the child’s self-esteem is not the way to go about it.

Listening is Just as Important as Teaching

As parents it’s easy to feel as though we’re always right and a child’s opinion holds little value. However, operating from this one-sided mindset doesn’t give you the opportunity to see things from the child’s point of view. Being a good listener will let you gain a clearer picture of what your child does and doesn’t understand, which will help you determine which areas need more attention.

Fostering Creativity Promotes a Healthy Mind

Another thing that was picked up from people earning their Masters in Social Work is that the imagination can be a child’s most powerful asset. Creativity is the root of problem solving and all other critical thinking skills, so be sure to place a strong emphasis on art, music, entertainment, reading, video games, and other forms of creative nourishment.

Punishment is Not Always the Best Rehabilitator

In social work they’re taught that individuals often have their own reasons they hold onto to justify their behaviors. Children operate the same way, base their behavior on what they perceive around them. It is therefore apparent that improving the child’s understanding is more important than inflicting a punishment that will only serve to generate negative emotions without providing a clearer explanation of why they’re being reprimanded in the first place.

Put Logic Before Emotions

As parents we have to be logical and patient with our children, as acting on emotional responses can quickly lead to frustration, disappointment, and harsh words or actions that you might regret later on. Thus, when your child acts out in a way that you do not agree with, instead of saying to yourself “what can I do to make them afraid to do this again?” you should be asking “what can I say to them to make them understand why this is wrong?”

It’s hard, but I do do some of these things and reading this advice from social workers has made me more aware and I am definitely going to try and change the way I react, emotionally, to the things the children do. Do you have any more useful tips for parents? 

parenting image by ShutterStock.

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Last Update: Thursday, 16th June 2016