It's time to cut yourself some slack because those things you thought were bad for your kids aren’t always a serious parenting crime.
There’s a reason some kids fill their pockets with fairy bread and lollies at birthday parties while others are happy to graze. Yep, turns out children who occasionally eat treats at home make better food choices. Research shows kids who never eat junk food at home eat more treats when they do have access to forbidden foods. “I’m not saying we should load our kids up on junk food, but we don’t want to make it so off-limits it starts to develop a sort of mystique,” says US professor Charlotte Markey.
While kids thrive on routine and generally need around 10 hours’ sleep each night, it doesn’t hurt to let them stay up late on special occasions. Sleep researcher Dr Mary Carskadon says a child’s preference for staying up late is partly genetic. If your kids like to go to bed later on weekends, encourage family sleep-ins or naps to make sure they get enough sleep and prevent tanties. “If kids don’t get enough sleep it affects the whole family’s quality of life,” says Dr Carskadon.
Driving yourself crazy trying to manage your kids’ screen time? You’re not the only one. But Dr Kristy Goodwin, resident expert at blog Nick Jr. Parents, says there is an argument for focusing as much on quality as quantity. “Children’s capacity to benefit from watching TV depends on parents selecting educational content that’s age-appropriate. We know kids really benefit when they watch TV with parents. It stops them from being passive and zoning out.”
Music classes and after-school sports are a great way to get kids socialising and learning new skills, but what if your child says they want to pull the pin on karate or concertos? According to paediatrics expert Dr Caroline Martinez, spending time doing less-structured activities can help your child to organise their time better. “That’s when they may develop broader life skills that could be really important, especially as they get more independent.”