5 Parenting Buzzwords You Need to Know

5 Parenting Buzzwords You Need to Know

With so much of our lives spent on a screen, we are faced with a constant influx of information – Twitter wars, celebrities’ lunches, natural disasters, real wars, and most of all, people’s opinions on… everything. (Yes, we’re aware that this blog post is also an opinion!) Everyone has something to say, especially when it comes to teaching and parenting. Let’s look at the keywords that keep popping up lately:

  • sensory activities
  • STEM/STEAM
  • helicopter parenting
  • gentle parenting
  • healthy boundaries

Maybe you’ve heard of some or all of these already. But do you know what they all mean?

 

At-Home Teaching Methods

Sensory Activities

Sensory this, sensory that. What’s different about games nowadays to have them all labelled sensory? Actually, the idea behind sensory play is to engage all the senses – touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing. It’s one thing to learn about addition on a sheet of paper, but once you get your kids counting the pencils in each pile, the concepts start to stick a bit better. Hands-on learning is great for many reasons; most importantly, it allows kids to connect with the material on a different level. Recent research on sensory play shows it helps brain development and fine motor skills, not to mention the impact it has on children’s ability to solve problems and test out ideas. These games can also help kids with learning disabilities and behavioural or developmental challenges by making the material more accessible. If you’re looking to buy sensory activities, you won’t have to look far! There are tons out there, plus you can easily make your own with things you probably have at home already.

STEM/STEAM

No, not stem cells. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – the extra A in STEAM is for Arts. So why are we talking about STEM now if the fields have existed for ages? Well, in the last few years, more and more school curriculums have turned towards innovation in STEM/STEAM as a guiding force behind the educational process. With the technology sector growing exponentially, and the job market in constant evolution, preparing our kids for the future looks a little different than it did before. Engineering and coding are not just for adults anymore! There are tons of children’s games and toys that develop the foundations of STEM knowledge at a young age, from chemistry sets to Legos – giving your young ones activities that challenge them to think creatively and innovate (yes, innovation is also a keyword these days) helps them with all kinds of future learning. Maybe your Lego-loving tot won’t be the next NASA administrator… but giving them the tools they need to grow in all different directions can only have a positive impact.

 

Parenting Techniques

Helicopter Parenting

If your child makes a mistake, who fixes it? Do you handle every little detail, remove every obstacle, solve every problem, get involved in every school and leisure activity, and HOVER constantly in case your child needs you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a helicopter parent. Although helping your child sounds like a positive thing, kids also need a) space, b) life skills, and c) self-confidence. These can only come from a parent taking a step back and allowing their child to make mistakes and find solutions on their own. Helicopter parenting will ultimately keep children from developing the competency and conviction they need to take on the world.

Decades ago, a mother would tell her kids “Be home by dinner!” and not see them for the next eight hours. Then, there was a jump in the opposite direction! It seems like finding a balance between these two extremes would be the best thing for our children, at least in my humble opinion.

Gentle Parenting

At first glance, gentle parenting may seem like a simple lack of discipline in child-rearing. However, the idea behind this method is much healthier. There are many ways to “gentle parent”, but they often boil down to these three concepts:

  1. Remove punishment and reward. Instead of yelling, giving time outs, or promising ice cream for good behaviour, gentle parenting works on attaining the desired outcomes not out of fear or want, but because it is the right and kind thing to do.
  2. Validate feelings. Gentle parenting practices patience and voices concerns, showing kids that their emotions have value and that these emotions can also be expressed in healthy ways. Rather than yelling at a crying child, the gentle parent seeks to understand what’s wrong and tells their kid they’re allowed to feel that way, all the while working towards self-regulation and expression.
  3. Stay calm. Even when your child is being a downright nuisance, gentle parenting encourages staying calm and respectful so your conversations can be productive – rather than criticisms and anger, gentle parents aim for empathy and firm yet respectful boundaries.

On paper, this sounds great. But in practice, taking the time to teach kids about their emotions every time they get frustrated (and not being able to release your own frustrations in a much-needed rant) is harder to maintain. The debate continues over this style of parenting.

Healthy Boundaries

Our views on boundaries, especially in Western society, have drastically changed in the last decades. Twenty-five years ago, if Grandma wanted a hug, you HAD to hug Grandma. But more and more, parents are helping their children establish boundaries and understand consent from a young age. Now, little Abby will hug Grandma if she wants to and feels comfortable doing so, not because her mom is forcing her.

At least, this is the goal for many younger parents. But family members’ feelings may get stung if the kids in the family stop showing physical affection every time they get together. Some might insist on a hug or a kiss. Some might say it isn’t a big deal. But let’s look at why it is, in fact, a big deal. By forcing kids to cross their boundaries, you are…

  1. teaching them their comfort doesn’t matter.
  2. encouraging them to ignore warning signs or gut feelings about a person who could have bad intentions.
  3. training them to put others’ needs ahead of their own.
  4. rejecting the idea that no means no.
  5. taking away their voice.

Am I being dramatic? Maybe. But more and more people are on the same page about boundaries and consent and how these topics, if addressed early in a child’s education, will have a lasting impact on who they become.

 

Well, there you have it! Of course, there are tons of other parenting terms – baby led weaning (BLW) and the Montessori Method, for example – for you to Google if you want to learn more. Which of these terms did you know already?