Advertisement
Parenting

The latest parenting buzzwords

Self-regulation, executive function, positive parenting… what do these buzzwords mean? Decide which to add to your toolbox as we define them.

By Nadine Silverthorne
The latest parenting buzzwords

The latest parenting buzzwords

Can parenting buzzwords help you?

Just when you think you’ve gotten this parenting thing down pat, one of two things happens:

1. Your child changes likes, dislikes, behaviours, etc., and your winner technique is now useless; or
2. You hear about the latest parenting buzzword and you wonder if your parenting style is out-of-date, ineffective or somehow a guarantee that your kid will need months of extensive therapy in the future.

Self-regulation, executive function, positive parenting… what do they all mean? And which one is right for your family? We break it all down for you so that you can make an informed decision about which ones to put in your parenting toolbox.

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Bowden Images/iStockphoto

Self-regulation

What it means:
Self-regulation is “the ability to adapt your physiological, emotional and mental state to the task at hand.” Children are encouraged to identify their state and then use classroom-approved strategies to get themselves back to a focused, ready-to-learn state.
 
Why it matters:
“Some studies are showing that children’s ability to self-regulate is a better predictor of school success than IQ.”
 
Key strategies:
“Additional self-regulation techniques include letting kids chew gum or play with pieces of yarn, beads or squeeze balls while the teacher is talking,” says Hoffman.
 
Read more: Self-regulation techniques for children>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Studio Three Dots/istockphoto

Advertisement

Executive function

What it means:
Executive function refers to cognitive processes that break down into four general skills: attention, impulse, working memory and planning.
 
Why it matters:
“Various studies have shown that executive function skills are more important for school readiness than a child’s IQ or level of reading and math ability as they enter school,” says Adele Diamond, a professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of British Columbia.
 
Key strategies:
Focus on activities that encourage good listening, controlling impulses, using memory and effective planning, such as: pretend or dramatic play, storytelling, obstacle courses, using a timer, Simon Says, I Spy and more.
 
Read more: 10 amazing brain builders for kids>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Lise Gagne/iStockphoto

Positive discipline

What it means:
The opposite of corporal punishment, positive discipline refers to adjusting your expectations according to your child’s age and ability, leading by example, rewarding good deeds and ignoring unwanted behaviour.
 
Why it matters:
Monkey see, monkey do. If your go-to technique is anger and yelling, you can expect the same from your child. Model the behaviour you would like to see.
 
Key strategies:
Teach by example, using a respectful tone. Be consistent and firm, but reframe your sentences to be positive. Rather than starting with “No!” consider suggesting an alternative, “Sure thing, when you eat up your vegetables, then I’ll know you’re ready for that cookie.”
 
Read more: Positive discipline>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Sky Nesher/iStockphoto

Attachment parenting

What it means: Attachment parenting refers to a responsive parenting style that research has shown to create a secure attachment between baby and caregiver, leading to an independent child who forms good relationships with others.
 
Why it matters:
Some experts believe that parenting that as a society we’ve moved too far away from the way humans have always parented. Research has shown that “when attachments are chronically disrupted or insecure, children may suffer from anxiety or depression, and can have relationship problems that continue throughout their lives.”
 
Key strategies:
Caregivers create a strong bond via keeping baby close through breastfeeding, babywearing, sleeping close by, responding to baby’s cues and finding balance between adult and baby needs.
 
Read more: Attachment parenting>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: photolyric/iStockphoto

Advertisement

Overpraise

What it means:
Exactly what it sounds like: you load on the "Great job!" comments when little Sally does the slightest thing.

Why it matters:
Because you may be doing more harm than good. Overpraise tends to overinflate the ego and give kids a sense that they don't need to try harder. In Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman's 2009 book Nurture Shock, the chapter on overpraise was an eye opener for many parents here in the west, where we tend to heap on the compliments to our kids. Watch this ABC Nightline video with Po Bronson to see his theory on overpraise in action.

Key strategies:
Focus on noting effort, e.g. "You worked hard on that assignment" rather than "You're so smart!" Find techniques for boosting self-esteem without inflating the ego. Be honest with your child when he or she fails at something and offer support to help your children work through difficult situations. And if you have to gush, keep it to a minimum.

Read more: How to build your child's self-esteem>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Diego Cerva/iStockphoto

Competence

What it means:
Competence refers to raising children to have the “resilience, adaptability and self-assurance that allows them to jump in, do what needs to be done, and stay as positive as possible when the going gets tough.”
 
Why it matters:
Nurturing competence in your child is a key building block for his or her self-esteem.
 
Key strategies:
A combo of other strategies discussed previously, competence is built via building self-esteem (through working on motor skills and forming a secure attachment), social skills (such as empathy, regulating emotions and developing a conscience), planning and problem-solving skills (through play and self-discipline) and learning life skills.
 
Read more: How to raise a self-sufficient kid>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Fertnig/iStockphoto

Overscheduling

What it means:
Too many extracurricular activities (from sports to playdates to tutoring) can add undue stress to your child and leave little time for family bonding and rest.
 
Why it matters:
Overscheduled children are often tired and may fall behind in school. “Playing together in an unstructured way also teaches kids how to build relationships and get along with others. They learn this best when adults aren’t too quick to jump in and solve issues,” says Susan Spicer in her June 2010 Today’s Parent article Summertime overscheduling.”
 
Key strategies:
Try to keep after school/daycare activities to one or two a week. Let your child choose which activity he or she prefers the most. Watch for signs of burnout.
 
Read more: Are you overscheduling your child?>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Ursula Deja/iStockphoto

Advertisement

Redshirting

What it means:
Academic "redshirting" is a term which describes the process of delaying your child's entry to school. It's derived from a US college term that describes the process of holding athletes back from playing sports in order to give them a physical advantage.

Why it matters:
Some studies have shown a correlation between December-born kids (the youngest in their class) and ADHD diagnoses. While some parents and experts believe that delaying entry to kindergarten or first grade will benefit children who lack maturity, a study of 26 Canadian elementary schools said that any early gains by redshirted children are equalized by middle school and may lead to poorer outcomes in high school.

Key strategies:
Meet with your child's future principal and/or teacher. Read the research. Once you are well-informed, decide if holding your child back a year will be a help or a hindrance.

Read more: Would you hold your kids back from kindergarten?>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Kent Weakley/iStockphoto

Helicopter parents

What it means:
"Helicopter parents" cheekily refers to overprotective moms and dads, who hover over their children (like a helicopter).
 
Why it matters:
By hyper-controlling children’s environment and limiting their exposure to different situations, we deny them the important lessons taught by consequences. Children of helicopter parents may grow up to be anxious and co-dependant adults, exhibiting a learned helplessness.
 
Key strategies:
Is this you? Relax. Reflect on, and then gradually relinquish, your own need for control. Seek professional help if necessary. Remember, you can’t protect your children forever, and independent, competent, self-reliant children fair better as adults.
 
Read more: Overprotected children>

The latest parenting buzzwordsPhoto: Ferran Traite/iStockphoto

More great tips for parents

The latest parenting buzzwords
This article was originally published on Apr 03, 2013

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement