Before you become a parent, you may not realise the full extent of emotions you are capable of feeling – and handling! Pregnancy is just a glimpse, but the real roller coaster adventure begins as soon as you hear your baby’s first cry.
As a dad, it is very difficult to explain the feeling: relief that the baby is all right; anxiety, as the baby is so tiny and helpless; and pride that you made something this beautiful and complex.
And the emotions amplify as your child starts to achieve each milestone. Soon, he starts rolling over, and before you know it, he is already toddling around!
You do everything you can to help him in this journey – shop for the perfect clothes and toys, provide nutrition and education, and build a safe and cosy home for him to grow in. Isn’t it such a sensational experience?
Growing up as parents
But one thing that all involved parents go through when their child is growing up is the vicarious sense of achievement with every successful step your child takes and an equally powerful sense of failure with every misstep.
Growing up, I remember the pride my mum felt when I won a competition. And today, when I imagine my child being assessed for something, I feel a similar kind of pressure as though it is me who is being examined.
We do not realise that all this time, we are maturing as parents. We learn from our own ‘firsts’ and somehow figure out how to handle even the worst of parenting scenarios. Here are some of those things I’ve learned along this roller coaster journey that may help you out in the everyday triumphs and pitfalls of parenthood.
#1 Express your emotions – wisely
It is natural to feel dejected if your child is unable to do something that other babies or kids of his age do or if he does something that causes you embarrassment. But you have to keep in mind that your child seeks your approval in everything he does, so you have be careful with how you react. There are encouraging ways to let him know that he can do better next time.
Conversely, you can use your reactions as a parenting tool – make it a point to show your happiness when your child does something good like sharing toys or packing away during a playdate.
While you may not always have a handle on your own emotions, being aware of how much your reactions affect your child helps you to be mindful, and shift to the perspective of teaching, beyond just expressing.
#2 Failure is important
A child learns more through failure than success. It is important that he sees it as a stepping stone and not as an end result. The key is to encourage him to keep on trying till he gets it right. That implies keeping your cool, using the right words for encouragement, and not pressuring him into completing the task.
When a child is pressured into doing something, he will focus only on the end result and will lose out on the experience – a vital part of your child’s learning curve. Let him fail and inspire him to rise and try again.
#3 Never take health and wellbeing for granted
This applies not just to your child, but also to you! Ensure that both of you get rest, exercise, and optimum nutrition in each meal. This plays an important role in helping your child reach his developmental milestones and boost his immunity, giving him the opportunity to play and discover.
A proper meal and staying hydrated doesn’t just give you energy – it helps you manage whatever the day throws at you too. Don’t you just feel like a superparent whenever you have a great breakfast and feel like you yourself might throw a tantrum if you have a cold, hurried dinner after a long day? Always carry a power-fruit like a banana with you. It will come handy juggling your job and the ever-demanding yet oh so rewarding role of parenting!
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Mums and dads, while we know for certain that there’s no right way of parenting, that doesn’t stop us from giving our best in ensuring that they grow up healthy, happy, and steered towards success. We may not know what the future holds for our children, but we can always empower them to be one step ahead.
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Ω As compared to other Growing Up Formula in Singapore for daily recommended feed. FAO/World Health Organisation recommends daily DHA intake level of 10-12mg/kg body weight for children 12-24 months, 100-150mg DHA+EPA for children 2-4 years of age or 150-200mg DHA+EPA for children 4-6 years of age. Reference: FAO 2010. Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition. Report of an expert consultation. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper no.91. FAO: Rome.
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