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Parenting has changed over the years. Availability of numerous opportunities, cut-throat competition, unfiltered information and outrageous ideas encroach the mind of a child while growing up. It makes modern day parenting very demanding and tricky. So, parents are required to 'optimise' their parenting style to nurture the child with a mix of everything this world demands. Now, that is critical. It takes a lot of time, efforts, sensitivity and balance to get there. In this rigmarole of parenting a child, the wrongs and rights get missed or mixed. Probably, in order to make this challenge a little easier, some new parenting styles have surfaced. Dolphin parenting is one of them. The concept of dolphin parents, as the name suggests, is taken from dolphins.
What's dolphin parenting? Like dolphins, this parenting style is firm yet flexible. This term is coined by Shimi Kang, author of The Dolphin Way: A Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Motivated Kids-Without Turning into a Tiger. In her words, dolphin parenting means, "maintaining balance in their children's lives to gently yet authoritatively guide them toward lasting health, happiness, and success." This style of parenting is authoritative but not authoritarian. The idea it follows is prioritising long-term goals and connecting them to short-term goals like test scores and high school achievements.
Experts believe that when it comes to parenting, nature's rule is to believe our gut which usually parents forget. Therefore, the idea is to learn from the playful, intelligent and social mannerism of dolphins. Dolphin parents are not overprotective but supportive and might not be strict but is firm. This style helps and allows children to learn and grow, positively. Here's what you can learn from this style of parenting.
It is not about abandoning the child or not protect him from any damaging or harmful threat. It is about making him strong to face life's ups and downs. Allowing your child to make mistakes and willingly learn from them is the basic concept of dolphin parenting. You shouldn't dictate him his life lessons, let the realisation come to him naturally. If your child is fine with his choices and is ready to face the backlash for it, if any, let him be.
Now this can be tricky! A conscious thought of where to draw a line is important. While you'd want to set certain rules for your child, you might not want to instruct him on every small thing. Understand, that while the learning inside four walls of the house and classroom is integral to his growth, outside-world learning is equally important. You cannot dictate him everything. Sticking to a routine is required, but a regular break from it is also needed. For instance, if you make your child stick to a schedule during weekdays, make him feel he's earned some free time on weekends. Strike a balance and let him explore a little.
This set of parents are neither overbearing nor directionless or lenient. It's all about striking a perfect balance. While you may set strict rules for your child to abide, be flexible in exceptional situations. Give him some time off. For instance, while you want your child to be good at academics and help him prepare to score good grades in exams, also respect his passions. If they are creative and take interest in any activity, make sure you are support them with it.
Make sure your child has confidence in you and in your bond with him. He should not fear coming to you thinking you'd scold him. If he commits a mistake, be firm and punish him but first, support him in the time of crises. If he lands up in a fix, make sure he knows what wrong he did but assure him first that you support him and would get him out of the situation. Help him form a meaningful social circle, develop a sound character and have a sense of connection with family and friends. With that, also make him learn to value the relationships he has.
When a child starts growing, the time too starts changing. What you thought of parenting when your baby was born might not stand true when he turns five. A five years gap is long, and this pattern repeats itself. While its necessary for the child to fit into a mould as required, it's equally important for you to adapt to the change that's happening around you in terms of parenting. The environment keeps changing, you can't have same rules for your 10-year old child which you made when he was five. However, this doesn't mean the basic essence of his values changes. He should be empathetic, loving and understanding for life as it's taught to him while growing up.
It's not necessary that your child too will succeed in a 'schedule-type' of parenting structure like other children. What works for others might not work for your child. Don't burn him out, don't tire him with relentless activities. That's not the idea to channelise his energy or make him succeed. For instance, in India, a concept of enrolling children for coaching classes for competition preparation from class sixth is trending. Is it wise? A 12-year old who's not even sure of his life interest is enrolled for something he's not ever thought of. Managing long hours of coaching with school and homework is terribly tiresome. It also leaves him with no time to relax and unwind. Don't over-schedule things for him. Busiest, sleep-deprived and pressurised children are not always successful. A higher rate of success is based on mental peace.