Parenting is an incredibly challenging yet rewarding job. For those who are doing it for the first time, decisions about discipline, feeding, education, and socializing can be daunting to say the least. While parenting is often a skill that can be passed down through families, many are turning to alternative approaches that are more holistic and spiritually inclined. Below is a brief guide on holistic parenting and some tips and benefits to bear in mind.
What is Holistic Parenting?
Holistic parenting is an approach and a philosophy that recognizes the interconnectedness of a child’s (and family’s) physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Parents that choose to raise their kids in this way will attend to all aspects of a child’s development, rather than favoring cognitive development, for example.
Holistic parenting also understands how our choices and actions are connected and how these impact on our health, well-being, and environment. Like most holistic activities, this style of parenting also embraces more natural approaches to health and diet and celebrates the autonomy of the child so that they can make the best decisions for themselves.
Tip #1 - Learn to Let Go
While there are no set rules when it comes to parenting, traditional approaches can encourage parents to intervene immediately if a child makes a mistake or needs help during play. However, holistic parenting supports a more trial-and-error approach that allows the child to make mistakes and then figure out a way to amend them on their own.
While a balance needs to be struck when it comes to assisting your child, research has shown that intervening too quickly or too often can be detrimental to their long-term coping skills. Learning to let go is thus about allowing your child more freedom to learn how to fall and get back up again.
Tip #2 - Make Informed Parenting Decisions
If you are new to holistic parenting, you will need to arm yourself with the options that differ from traditional parenting styles. In other words, being a holistic parent means making informed decisions about the welfare of your child in relation to the alternatives available. To make sure you are prepared for this new mode of parenting, conduct research on important areas including vaccinations, breastfeeding, nutrition, discipline, communication, baby care, and education. You need to make the best decision for you and your family.
Tip # 3- Teach Your Kids to Care & Respect
While most parents will want to teach their kids how to respect others, a holistic approach can expand this to include areas such as the environment, nature, and the elderly. Teaching your kids these virtues early on will help them become caring, responsible adults.
For example, you could take your kids out for nature walks and teach them to appreciate their surroundings and not take it for granted. Or you could take them to visit family or loved ones in retirement homes like Belmont Village to help foster a respect for the elderly. This will also introduce the concept of difficult decisions and focusing on the needs of others. Understanding this type of decision from an early age will help them to make similar decisions in the future either for themselves or for you. Taking them to these senior facilities will show them what elderly life is like and how holistic care can enable people to live healthy, fulfilling lives – rather than learning stereotypes from popular culture.
Tip # 4- Promote Health & Wellness
Being a holistic parent also means promoting and practicing health and wellness. This includes healthy eating, staying active, encouraging relaxation and mindfulness, and being aware of and minimizing toxins in the living environment. Where possible, make healthy eating a fun activity and get out with your kids so that they learn to be active from a young age. It is also important to teach your kids about the importance of slowing down and taking time to rest so that they are better able to deal with stress.
Tip # 5 - Spend Time Getting to Know Your Kids
Being a busy parent can often mean you have very little quality time with your kids. But as a holistic parent, it is important to sit down and really get to know the unique behavior patterns, temperaments, attitudes, and thinking styles of your kids. By understanding and recognizing their talents, ambitions and habits, you can encourage their strengths and assist them with any weak areas. Getting to know your kids on this level also means you have an opportunity to discourage any negative habits or mindsets.
Tip # 6 - Implement a Nurturing & Caring Approach
What parent does not want to be nurturing and caring? When it comes to holistic parenting, this approach applies to things such as discipline, communication, attachment practices, and more. It is important to try to implement a nurturing approach in the household, rather than one that is based solely on rules and discipline. While boundaries are important, creating a foundation of caring support will go a long way towards a happy and healthy family life.
Tip # 7 - Become Democratic
In traditionally strict households, kids are often given rules and are expected to abide by them without question. However, a holistic parenting approach is more democratic and provides an opportunity for the kids to be involved in family decisions. Research has shown that kids who are raised more democratically have better social, academic, and psychological outcomes. By treating your kids as important members of the family and allowing them to express their opinions, you encourage communication, openness, and confidence.
Tip # 8 - Encourage Your Kids to Trust Themselves
It can be tempting as parents to correct your kids and tell them the best way of doing things so that they are successful later in life. However, too much of this kind of parenting can lead kids to lose confidence in themselves. As a holistic parent, try to encourage your kids by giving them positive affirmations. Phrases such as “I knew you could do it” or “you have all the answers you need inside” can go a long way towards fostering healthy self-esteem. Conversely, telling your kids they are wrong or that you know better can lead to weakened coping skills and feelings of low self-worth.
Tip #9 – Teach Them the Value of Money
It is important to teach your kids the value of money from an early age. This includes teaching them how to save, how to differentiate between wants and needs, and the importance of working to earn. As part of this, teaching them to delay gratification and to save up their own money to buy something they want are all incredibly valuable.