When you’re a parent you will get advice from anyone and everyone whether you ask for it or not. You will get advice from your mom, your sister, the old lady in line behind you at the grocery store, even the bank teller, and I am no different. But my advice focuses on wading through the good parenting advice vs. the not-as-good vs. the downright bad advice. You can’t listen to everyone especially when they have conflicting tips. How are parents, especially newer parents, supposed to know the difference? There is a definite process that you, as the parent, need to go through in order to pick and choose which parenting advice is right for you.
Use Your Common Sense
I know, I know, if common sense was so common then everyone would have it. You do have common sense when it comes to parenting; it’s called logic. Ask yourself two simple questions: Does Mom’s (sister’s, bank teller’s) advice makes sense? What will happen if I follow it?
Let’s say Mom told you that your baby needs a small teaspoon of honey mixed with his rice cereal in order to make it taste better. I actually had someone (I can’t remember who right now) tell me this when my son was three months old. My thought was that since rice cereal was the first semi-solid he was going to eat he wouldn’t really know the difference between sweet and not-so-sweet, so why add it.
When in Doubt, Check it out
Some advice is just dangerous or could potentially be dangerous. Just because ‘they’ did it that way ‘years ago’ doesn’t mean that it was good or even safe practice. If it is something you are wary of then double check the advice. You can go online, to reputable websites, to do some fact checking especially if the advice is about anything medical. For everyday advice you can talk to other moms that you know. They may have already done the fact checking for you. At the very least, other moms will have their own advice to give.
Let’s go back to the honey in the rice cereal advice. Honey contains the botulism bacteria which is harmless to anyone over the age of 1. Babies run the risk of actually developing botulism from honey because of their immature immune system. This advice falls in the dangerous category and I made sure I clarified that with the advice giver.
Try the Parenting Tips Offered by the Parents Who Have Been There and Done That
My sister calls me to ask for parenting advice because both of my kids are older than her kids. We call my husband’s brother because both of his kids are older than ours. We seek advice from parents who have ‘been there and done that’ and have healthy, happy kids to prove it.
Let’s say your child has a huge separation anxiety issue. You talk to your sister who says to keep good-byes brief, walk away, and don’t look back. It makes sense to break the connection in order to let your child get adjusted to his new surroundings quicker. Try it, it may work.
If that Doesn’t Work, Try the Next One
Not all advice works on all kids. What will work on one child may not work on another. I’ve tried the same discipline techniques on both my kids and one responds better to threats of grounding while the other one does not, under any circumstances, want to be sent to his room.
Going back to the separation anxiety issues, most people will say to keep the good-byes brief and the child will get over it faster. I have seen this work but I have also seen this not work. Some kids need a little more time in their comfort zone (with you) to calm down. If a brief good-bye doesn’t work then try another approach.
This advice is the same no matter what the problem is. If one thing doesn’t work then try another, and another until you find what will work for you and your kids. Of course, make sure it follows the first two steps first: Does the advice make sense and can I check it out?