New parents often hear that their parental instincts will kick in when their child is born. Once the child is born, however, parents might not feel much different. So questioning your parental instincts and wondering if yours are good enough is normal.
All good parents wonder if they are doing the right thing and if their parental instincts are on point. Plus, you likely want to learn how to sharpen your instincts to become a better parent to your child.
Twelve Habits to Help Sharpen Your Parental Instincts
Developing good habits can help you sharpen your parental instinct, and you can adapt the habits to work for your lifestyle. Of course, everyone parents differently, and that is okay, so learning to hone in on your skills and instincts can make all the difference.
1. Regularly Spend Quality Time with Your Children
One of the best ways to sharpen your instincts is to spend more quality time together. If you have more than one child, set up times for only you and one child. Then, rotate through your children so that everyone gets that undivided attention from you.
You don’t even have to do anything out of the ordinary to spend quality time with your child. For example, help them with an art or science project or take them shopping. You can also take them to the park or go for a walk together.
Other ideas are to play with them or build something together. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do during your time together. The point is only to have that one-on-one time with your child so that your instincts can sharpen.
2. Talk About Feelings and Encourage Your Child to Do the Same
While you don’t want to overwhelm your child with your feelings, you must use emotional words. Choose phrases that emphasize feeling in your daily conversations, and your child will begin to do the same. Then, you can recognize when your child is feeling anything out of the ordinary.
When you recognize the way your child feels and can sense subtle changes, your instincts will quickly kick in. First, normalize talking about feelings so that you can help your child through feelings of sadness, frustration, fear, or anger.
3. Surround Yourself with a Good Support System
Spending time with other people that have good instincts can boost yours. Everyone learns from each other and can use support sometimes. So allowing yourself to have that type of support system can boost your confidence and give you good people to bounce your thoughts off.
Surrounding yourself with a positive parental support system also allows you to receive good advice. If you trust the people that you are around, then you can sharpen your parental instincts with their assistance.
4. Gratefully Accept Advice
Sometimes, advice comes unwarranted, and it can be pretty useless. Most of the time, though, even when the suggestions aren’t the best, they were given with good intentions. So rather than let the unsolicited advice eat away at you, accept it with gratitude and file it in your mind.
If you use the advice, that’s great, and it can help with your parental instincts. However, if you decide that the advice won’t work for you, it is still sharpening your instincts. Anytime you learn something new about your parenting style and values, you are becoming better.
You don’t have to agree with anyone or follow all of the parenting advice you receive. Instead, express your gratitude for the thought, and decide later on what you will do with the information. Listening to their advice and accepting it gratefully will help you learn about your parental instincts.
With advice from others, you can navigate the world of parenting in a way that you are comfortable with. You will learn about the things you value and your goals as a parent. Just remember that you don’t have to implement the advice for it to help you out.
5. Practice Coping Methods
With healthy coping strategies, you can truly hone in on your parental instincts. Rather than overreacting or panicking when something happens, you can assess the situation appropriately. Not only does this help with your instincts, but it helps your child learn to cope, too.
If you can stay calm and roll with whatever happens, your instincts will kick in. As a result, you will find that you are more level-headed and have a better idea of what to do next.
6. Acknowledge that Every Child is Different and that You Know Your Child Best
Recognizing your child’s differences is essential to sharpening your parental instincts. No two children are alike because they all have individual personalities, influences, and temperaments. Knowing these details about your child can sharpen your instincts quickly and effectively.
Not everything that works for others will work for you and your child. Keep this in mind and consider your child as an individual when making decisions or helping them.
Working with your children to practice mindfulness and mental strength, you can sharpen your instincts. These things will help you think clearly, allowing you to make logical and helpful choices. Think things through before you act, and assess whether your ideas will make a difference.
Sometimes the simple act of reflection can help you figure out your child’s needs and desires. Take the time to think everything through before reacting. It will help you weigh the pros and cons of any experience.
8. Don’t Worry About Being Judged
The best way to sharpen your parental instincts is to stop worrying about being judged. Don’t do things simply because society expects you to. Instead, do what you are comfortable with as a parent.
For small children, this could mean letting them sleep in your bedroom. Or, it could mean putting them back to bed every time they get up instead. These two opposite parenting methods are okay, so don’t think about being judged as a parent.
Everyone parents differently, and that is great since all kids are different. However, don’t feel like you have to conform to societal standards and do what you are comfortable with in all instances. When you parent in this way, you won’t feel as guilty at the end of the day.
It is also important to note that there are negatives to every positive parenting situation. None of the parenting methods out there are perfect, and they won’t all work for every child. Whatever you choose, there will be someone out there that disagrees.
9. Set Goals as a Family
Setting goals as a family is essential to truly get to know your kids and developing your parental instincts. As you all work together, you will experience mistakes, failure, and success throughout the process. This journey together will help you recognize your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas of growth.
The goals can be anything that benefits the entire family. For example, you could choose a fitness goal, an academic goal, or simply beating personal records. As you teach your children to challenge themselves, you will develop your instincts, as well.
10. Work on Problem Solving
As a parent, you will likely want to fix all of your child’s problems for them. You must resist the urge, though, if you want to sharpen your instincts. Watching your child figure things out alone helps them with problem-solving while helping you recognize unique things about your child.
Working on problem-solving can help you see how they process things and what their thought process is like. Knowing these small things about your child can help you identify what your child is thinking or doing without asking them.
11. Trust Yourself
No matter the situation you find yourself in, trust yourself to do what is right. Choose your first response because that is your parental instinct.
Even when you have a ton of options, your first one is usually correct. Then, if you have time to think it through, you should exercise that option. However, many parenting experiences require a quick reaction.
If you follow your gut instinct, you will likely solve the problem. Even if it wasn’t the perfect response, it is better than questioning yourself before reacting.
12. Pay Attention to Rules
Paying attention to the rules will surprisingly help you sharpen your parental instincts. Rules are different everywhere, so understanding and enforcing limits is essential to hone in on your instincts. In addition, knowing what to expect can help you address your child appropriately for every situation.
When you feel like you don’t have all the answers, that is okay because no one else does, either. In an instant, your parental instinct will kick in, even if you don’t realize it. That first reaction or thought you have is your instinct, so trust yourself to do the right thing at the moment.
Remember that you know your child better than anyone else does or ever could. You will know what they need or what the right choice is, so follow your instinct and pay attention to your thoughts. Your ability to adapt to your child’s unspoken signs is greater than you realize.