By Tan Chin Hock

As an advocate of strong families, it's always a pleasure to share my parenting journey with my readers. It's been six years since I shared my article "Parenting Lessons from a Commando and Daddy of Three", and I am pleased to see that it has been popular with viewers.

As my children have grown and developed, I’ve learned that parenting is a dynamic process that requires flexibility and adaptability to meet the unique needs of each child at each stage of development. In this follow-up article, I like to share some of the valuable lessons I've learned about parenting as my children have grown and developed.

One important lesson I've learned is that as kids grow, parenting style changes too. The parenting style that works for a toddler may not be as effective for a teenager. It's essential to be open and responsive to each child's unique needs, and to adjust our parenting style as our children grow. As children grow, they become more independent and develop their own interests, preferences, and personalities. This requires parents to adjust their parenting style to meet their child's changing needs and support their growing autonomy.

Effective communication is a crucial component of successful parenting. As your child grows and develops, open communication becomes even more critical. Teenagers are going through a period of significant change and transformation, and they need to feel that they can trust and rely on their parents for guidance and support. Positive communication with your teenager is key to building a strong and healthy relationship. This means actively listening to your teen, respecting their opinions and feelings, and providing constructive feedback and guidance. It's also important to communicate your expectations clearly and consistently, and to be willing to compromise and negotiate when necessary.

As parents, we all know how hard it can be to find time to connect with our kids. But sometimes, it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference. That's why my wife and I make it a point to go for grocery shopping or a dessert break once or twice a week. We use it as an opportunity to catch up on everything that's going on especially in our children’s lives - from school to personal issues.

One of the things I've learned as a parent is that sometimes, our kids just need someone to listen. During these outings, I make sure to play the role of a listener and hear my kids out on their inner thoughts and struggles. I don't always need to provide solutions for their problems. Instead, I just listen to them carefully and accept them without judgment. (To-date. am still trying to resist providing solution unless they ask for it)

I remember my teen child telling me that she appreciates it when we just listen to her without trying to fix everything. It's a reminder that our kids don't always need us to be superheroes - sometimes, all they need is a listening ear. By taking the time to connect with your kids in this way, I am sure you can build a strong and trusting relationship that will last a long time.

Positive reinforcement is a key principle in parenting, and it becomes even more important as your child grows into a teenager. Teenagers are going through a period of significant change and transition, and they need to feel supported and encouraged to develop positive self-esteem and confidence. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to shape your teen's behavior. This means praising your teen for their positive actions and providing small rewards for good behavior. It's essential to be specific with your praise and rewards, and to focus on the positive aspects of your teen's behavior. By doing so, you can help your teen develop positive self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment, which can help them navigate the challenges of adolescence more effectively.

I've been a hands-on dad since my children were young, and I've had the privilege of witnessing their ups and downs. On a regular basis, I would share anecdotes on each child’s strong points and how they overcome their difficulties as they grown. Whether it's being selected for the school team, receiving an award, or even performing a simple act of kindness like holding the door open for a neighbor, my children know how proud we are of them. By celebrating their successes, we reinforce the idea that their hard work and achievements matter to us. It's a small way of letting them know that we are paying attention, and that we are here to support them through every step of their journey.

Self-Care is the practice of taking time to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health, and is essential for maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

As teens grow and develop, they are also developing habits and behaviors that will impact them for years to come. As parents, it's important to help guide them towards healthy habits and behaviors. By prioritizing self-care, parents can model healthy behaviors and help their teens develop a sense of the importance of self-care in their own lives.

As parents, we can encourage our teens to engage in self-care practices such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation techniques to help them manage the stresses and challenges of adolescence. In addition, self-care can help teens develop a positive sense of self and boost their self-esteem. By prioritizing self-care for yourself and your teen, you can help foster a sense of well-being, resilience, and balance in your family.

We would cycle or blade at least twice a week. At every session, the children would love to play their favourite game - tag. You guessed it. I am the catcher! To catch up with the children, I have my own self-care routine.

Some examples of self-care practices that can be beneficial for both parents and teens include:

- Regular exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling or yoga

- Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing

- Eating a healthy and balanced diet

- Getting enough sleep

- Spending time in nature or engaging in outdoor activities

- Engaging in creative activities, such as drawing, painting, or writing

- Spending time with friends and loved ones

By prioritizing self-care for yourself and your teen, you can help foster a sense of well-being, resilience, and balance in your family. By modeling healthy behaviors and encouraging your teen to engage in self-care practices, you can help them develop the skills they need to manage stress, navigate challenges, and thrive as they grow and develop.

Finally, it's essential to be aware of your own parenting strengths and weaknesses. As a parent, we all have our own unique strengths and challenges. It's important to be honest with ourselves about our parenting style and to identify areas where we may need to improve. Seeking support and guidance from other parents, counselors, or support groups can be helpful in developing the skills and tools we need to be effective parents.

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Learn more about Our FFL Contributor Tan Chin Hock:

Tan Chin Hock is a bit of an adrenaline junkie - a former commando, no less! He is dedicated to empowering and advocating for strong families. With his passion for self-care and healthy living, he leads by example and encourages others to prioritize their family relationships. Through his social enterprise, he aims to inspire and uplift the less resourced communities through photography. Join Chin Hock as he combines his unique experiences and unwavering commitment to promote the importance of strong families and making a positive impact in today's world.

Read more of Tan Chin Hock's articles here.

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