By Doug Hasell, MD
One of the joys of being a pediatrician is the opportunity to observe parents with their kids in different situations. We see the good and the bad, and how this affects the kids. I think most of us consider it to be a great privilege to be involved in such an intimate and important role. The encouraging part about this is that we see that most children only need a few basic ingredients to thrive and be happy. They need to feel they are loved. This is the most important ingredient and children have a sense of this through their parent’s actions and priorities. This is a no-brainer for most parents but they may or may not know the other important ingredients.
This is a sense of structure, stability and safety in their children’s lives. This reduces stress and allows them to flourish and achieve their full potential. Children of all ages need to have consistent limit setting on their behavior. This is done in a very loving and patient way by the best parents. Other parents may not be as calm or patient because of stress in their lives or because of their personality type. Most children are very resilient to being scolded by their parents. However when parents either don’t have the energy or confidence to set limits on their children they often develop behavioral problems and find it hard to set limits on their own behavior as they get older.
To be an excellent parent, you don't have to be a perfect parent. There are situations that you may not handle perfectly. It seems to be that most children will do well if they feel consistently loved and there is an adult who has a special interest in their well-being and success. And if they have structure and feel safe, they will have curiosity to learn and strive to do their best in everything they do.
Whether you lean more towards being a helicopter parent who hovers over their child and may over protect them or the "free-range" parent who allows their child to explore their environment and take more risks, you can be assured that there is a wide range of successful parenting styles. If your child feels loved and has been reared in a stable and safe environment with a sense of consistency and structure they will usually be well adjusted and happy.