Manage Your Parenting Journey through Primary School Effectively with Child Journals
Parenting is difficult, and more so during your child’s formative years. It’s hard to draw that line between letting your child develop into their own person, and wanting to guide them at every step of the way. It’s a parent’s job to prepare your child for the real world, to make them grow into people who would positively affect the society they grow up in, to encourage them to be the best version of themselves, and to make sure they have fun on their journey as well! Pre-teen can be a difficult age to manoeuvre around (second only to The Teenage Phase), where kids have so much going on in their lives. Not only are their bodies biologically changing, they have school, new interests, new friends, co-curricular activities (CCAs), and an increasingly growing social life — which can make them distance from their parents. At such a time, it may get frustrating to parent and try to connect with your child.
What to Expect
First of all, primary school-aged children are undergoing major transitions during their childhood. They’re either getting their first taste of formal education, or are experiencing the stress of facing a national exam (the infamous PSLE). Other than that, your child’s moods will undergo drastic changes: they won’t always be able to handle their changing feelings and reactions because of how pre-teen and teenage brains develop. This can lead to over-sensitivity, grumpiness, rudeness, tantrums, lash-outs and unexpected snark and sarcasm. Then there’s the myriad of outside influences —
friends, phones, laptops, games, and whatnot. At a time when your child is struggling to be independent in their lifestyle, while being dependent on their parents, it’s not uncommon to have straining fights or arguments.
While lower-primary school-aged children won’t really lash out much as long as they have their playtime set out, older children can be difficult to manage when they feel as though they are lacking decision-making power in their lives. It’s common knowledge that exams (such as the PSLE) do mean a lot to parents, and parents often sacrifice their kids leisure time to ensure they study enough (or too much, sometimes). Not only does this disadvantage your child by stopping them from developing in other ways that aren’t academic, but planning out their schedule for them gives up their control over their lives. As such, when parents make other decisions on their behalf, it goes against the idea of independence the child is looking out for.
What to Work Towards
Parenting is a two-people job, a collaboration between you and your child, and it will take for you to understand your child, as well as your child to understand you, to have a effective parenting journey.
As your child grows up, it will take a balance of your parenting and their individualism for them to realise their best potential. And yes, it will seem scary to let go of some of the things you used to do for your kids — from little things like choosing their breakfast menu to bigger things like letting them choose their CCAs or daily schedules. It takes time, and a lot of adapting to be comfortable with it, but it will create a better understanding for both of you. As a parent, you’ll be able to observe what your child’s interests incline towards, and help them build up that way. As a child, they’ll be able to trust you and know that you will let them explore and grow in their own way. This has actually proven to a great strategy, and children are less prone to rebelling, hiding, and/or lying, because they feel as though they can be more open with their parents.
Following on the point above, discipling your growing child becomes a lot easier when they don’t even do much that will need you to discipline them. However, should the time come that you need to scold them or punish them, always remember that this is for your child, and not you. Often I see parents release their own frustrations through such measures, and it’s a pity because it distances your child even more and worsens their behaviour. If you want to scold them, don’t raise your voice, do it privately, and always make them understand the consequences of their actions. If you want to punish them, again, don’t do it publicly, don’t get physical, and always explain why such a punishment is occurring. This helps them understand why they’re going through something they may dislike, and would reduce such behaviour in the future, instead of having them feeling misunderstood and harbouring resentment.
What You Can Do
Child development journals are popular in ensuring an effective parenting environment. These journals immortalise various memories between you and your child, and also allow you to track your child’s growth and progress as they grow up. Keeping track of your observations of them will definitely allow you to cater to a childhood that they would enjoy and thrive in.
• Write Your Heart Out
Often, when parenting gets difficult, writing your feelings can be the best way to get over events. Or, perhaps, you’re feeling annoyed about how an activity turned out. In which case purposefully thinking of the positive
aspects of it may make you feel better and more appreciative the occurrence. Journals allow you to sort out your frustrations, your happiness, your sadness and your joy. Instead of facing a parenting challenge head-on with strong emotions, journalling about it first could help you rationalise your following steps.
Parents are often expected to be perfect, but we forget that they are humans too. Instead of holding them to such high expectations, I hope parents realise that the parenting journey is not only about the child, but the parent too. You’ll make mistakes, as will your child, but it’s important that the both of you learn and grow. The pre-teen can be difficult to get through, but with measures like journaling and healthy communication, I’m sure your parenting journey will be more productive than you would imagine it to be.