Parenting is a full time role with different seasons. There are numerous stages through which a child grows. In each of the stages, they require attention at different intensities. Parents also require varying of their influence levels through the growth. Also, the different roles of the caregivers are also seen to influence a child differently during the various stages of development.

From research and literature, it is indicated that after 7 years of age, the child’s framework is already formed. There is a tender gap between the ages of 1-7 years where the caregivers can be able to form a child’s thought process and character. Later on, the child can be influenced minimally between the ages of 7-12 but a lot of effort is required to fix which is already held strongly. Also, a different mode of impartation is required from what can be done effortlessly in the window of 1-7 years.

What interested me the most is the different amount of influence that a parent has in their child’s life compared to what comes from the environment with age of the child. Here is the list:

a) At 13-18 years, influence from a parent is at 40%. The other 60 % comes from the environment. You can imagine how little control the parent has on their teenager. If the parent has not instilled good values on their child, the environment can easily bundle them up into what it feels is good for them.

b)> 19 years, the parents only have 10% influence on their child. 90% of the influence comes from the environment. This means that if a parent has been absent during the early life of a child’s life, nothing much can be done after these years. This is when we will find many parents who have either been away on long work travels or even have been away from a dysfunctional family disagreement, will try their best to compensate for the time lost. It might be frustrating when they try to put in too much effort and probably even pick up fights with their children, not understanding that they are already grown up and have their own personal values already fixed.

Let us now quickly go through the seasons of parenting and what roles should be played by the parents at each age.

1) 0-5 years. These are toddlers.

They require hugs and kisses, where they feel loved and appreciated. Smiles and playtime, where they enjoy playing funny games for example hide and seek behind curtains. Love and nurturing to be able to build their sense of self confidence, where they know that they are loved at home and they do not require approval from other people in order to have a sense of belonging. They also require eye contact and attention. Children at this age will want to be looked at and to feel as if they are the center of attention even at home.

2) 6-9 years. These are preteens.

These are children who require attention, and interestingly they have so many questions that they require answers to. We have to be a bit careful with them because they ask questions with answers in mind and they are only asking to test their parents. To see if their parents know what they know. Also if they are lied to, here is where they start imagining that their parents are liars.

Parents ought to listen to these questions very carefully, and also to monitor their answers. If a child asks sexual questions, they could have learnt that from their peer, sex education from their school. But some question could emancipate from exposure to pornographic sites, and this is why all questions need to be taken seriously. Also, when answering questions, one should ensure that they gauge the child’s level of knowledge before one gives too much information which might be excessive for the child. So, as a parent, first of all desire to know how much the child knows before giving out information which might be harmful when used wrongly.

In addition to that, talking and listening time is important for them. This is where they learn from their parents on topics such as politics and morals. They learn during story time, during traveling with their parents. Also, this way they learn from the moral decisions that their parents make on their day to day life, and with that they are able to learn how to deal with similar situations in their lives. If this stage is skipped, the children will interestingly have no mental image of how to deal with certain complexities.

These ones also require participation and involvement. When cooking in the kitchen, a child needs to be involved in making eggs and maybe even boiling tea. It keeps them busy and also helps them learn different home duties. Studies have shown that children who take part in home duties end up being successful adults compared to their counterparts ho have no idea on how to run household duties.

They also require fun and playtime. This would include activities such as bike riding with the parents or even with other children in the estate. Playtime with other children is good as the child learns how to interact with other people in society, and also to survive.

3) 10-12 years

They require support and guidance from the family. There are rules in the family, but at this stage they require reasons for the rules at home. They also require approval and encouragement at this stage of growth to avoid external interruptions of the development of their self-esteem.

4) 13-18 years. These are young adults.

They enjoy debates and discussions as most of the time they want to confirm if their parents agree with most of their values that they have picked up along the way. They need mentoring and guidance. They need respect and independence. They need to see belief from their parents on them and that way they will gain a sense of responsibility.

Also, by this age, caning should have stopped. Caning should be used as a mode of discipline for only children below the age of 12 years, thereafter; it not only builds resistance but also rebellion from a child.

5) >20 years.

Here the influence of the parents is significantly reduced and this is visibly seen in the kind of adult that the child has turned out to be. At this age, parents are consultants and friends. They are not supposed to interfere with their child’s life and should be there to be consulted on issues that require clarification. They should also be approachable to ease the communication between them and their children.

What more do you think parents should be doing at the different stages of growth of a child? Kindly leave a comment and let me know!

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Lots of love,

Ruguru Kimani.