The #1 Supportive Parenting Style and How to Implement It

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Hey there! I’m Kayla, aka the Whole School Psych, and I’m really passionate about helping students to reach their full potential, both inside and outside of the classroom.

I know the average parent is not an educator or a psychologist and fully understanding why your kid thinks the way they do or behaves the way they do (and supporting them) can be challenging and confusing.

As a school psychologist, I also know that education has a habit of placing most of the emphasis on academics as opposed to looking at all of the things that contribute to learning, child development, and growth. It can be hard for parents to know who to go to for good advice, to determine if the way they’re doing things is the right way or not, and in today’s parenting landscape, there’s a lot of pressure on parents and on kids to get it “right”.

…and that’s exactly why I’m The Whole School Psych.

While I firmly believe that every parent is the expert on their own child(ren), parents often need help and support from subject-matter experts. I think the combination of parents who can step into their authority as experts and subject-matter experts if *chef’s kiss*.

My goal with this platform is to use my knowledge as a school psychologist to educate and increase awareness about what it means to serve the whole child and provide you with the tools to do so, primarily through posts about learning and behavior.

So many things are part of serving the whole child: fostering your child’s sense of agency, meeting their fundamental human needs, prioritizing your family values, providing support for the appropriate developmental stage throughout their time in your care, and helping them to develop healthy self-esteem. All of these things (and more) are pieces of the complicated puzzle of raising well-rounded, 

So, let’s start by unpacking the whole child approach (which is important enough to me for it to be the foundation of the name of my platform and the work that I do).

Why the “Whole Child Approach”?

The Learning Policy Institute says that a “whole child approach understands that students’ education and life outcomes are dependent upon their access to safe and welcoming learning environments and rich learning experiences in and out of school”. 

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) says that the five tenets of the whole child approach is that kids need to feel healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

I explain the Whole Child Approach as a lens through which we view education and parenting. It recognizes that a child’s development isn’t solely about academics; it’s about addressing all the factors that contribute to their well-rounded growth. From emotional and social skills to physical health and creative expression, the whole child approach takes a comprehensive view.

Most resources available to parents that cover the whole child approach cover it from a school perspective, meaning that all of the discussion is around what teachers, administrators, and school personnel can do to implement it. But home-school connection is important and the whole child approach also applies to home life but in a slightly different way, which is why I believe that it is a type of parenting style.

A parenting style is a pattern of behaviors, attitudes, and approaches that a parent uses when interacting with and raising their child, and the whole child approach fits that definition. I also believe that is the best parenting approach to take for three main reasons.

It Prioritizes Social Emotional Learning

School often focuses on academics. But there’s so much more to learning than academics. Emotion regulation and social-emotional learning are the skills that your kid will need not just in school, but in life. This ranges from learning and exhibiting appropriate social skills and learning how to give and receive positive feedback to prioritizing mental health and ensuring that it’s treated with as much importance as physical health.

It Challenges Kids and Parents

The parent-child relationship really sets the stage for their futures. The whole child challenges you in ways that allow both you and your child to grow individually, and grow together. While your child is in a state of complete dependence on you, you have a wonderful opportunity to grow them and grow with them through life’s challenges and as various aspects of the whole child approach can be implemented in your daily tasks (more on that later).

It Requires Parents to Engage in Many Aspects of the Best Traditional Parenting Style

As a quick overview, different styles impact how they perceive the world, deal with challenges, and build relationships.

Authoritarian parenting, characterized by strict rules and high expectations, may lead to disciplined but possibly anxious children. Permissive parenting, with its lenient approach, may foster creativity but potentially hinder a sense of responsibility. Authoritative parenting, finding a balance between rules and warmth, often results in well-adjusted and self-disciplined kids. Studies on parenting styles have found that authoritative parents are more likely to raise confident kids who achieve academic success, have better social skills and are more capable at problem-solving.

In essence, following the whole child approach to parenting, in many ways, naturally sets parents up to be able to act in the child’s best interests.

5 Tips for Embracing the Whole Child Approach

Now that we’ve discussed what the Whole Child Approach is, here are some easy tips for embracing it and implementing it right now.

1. Listen Actively

Take time to truly listen to your child. Understand their thoughts, concerns, and dreams. Active listening fosters strong emotional connections, contributing to your child’s social and emotional development.

2. Encourage Curiosity

Cultivate an environment that sparks your child’s curiosity. Provide opportunities for exploration, whether through books, nature, or hands-on activities. Curiosity is the gateway to a love for learning.

3. Balance Structure and Flexibility

Strive for a balanced parenting style that combines clear expectations with flexibility. Establishing routines provides stability, while allowing room for spontaneity encourages creativity and adaptability.

4. Promote Emotional Intelligence

Help your child recognize and manage their emotions. Discuss feelings openly, teach problem-solving skills, and encourage empathy. Emotional intelligence is a valuable asset in navigating life’s challenges.

5. Celebrate Individuality

Embrace and celebrate your child’s uniqueness. Recognize and support their strengths and interests. Fostering a sense of individuality contributes to a positive self-image and a strong sense of identity.

One Last Thing

As a parent of a school-age child, you are the heartbeat of your child’s world. Through the Whole Child Approach, you provide not just education but an environment rich in unconditional love, acknowledging the importance of every facet of your child’s development. Reflecting on your own experiences, both the triumphs and the challenges, allows you to connect on a profound level with your little one. While in the process of doing this, it’s also important to recognize and attend to your own needs to protect yourself from parental burnout.

Remember, you are not alone on this journey. Make it a priority to build a robust network of support systems. Draw strength from those who understand and empathize. Embrace your authentic self in this role, acknowledging that, like your child, you have basic human needs too. Trust in your ability to make good decisions, guided by the deep well of love you hold for your child. By prioritizing your well-being, you not only fortify your own foundation but also create a nurturing space for your child to blossom. In every hug, every conversation, and every shared moment, you’re weaving a tapestry of resilience and growth.

TL;DR

I’m Kayla, the Whole School Psych, and I’m on a mission to help parents understand the Whole Child Approach, emphasizing that education isn’t just about academics. As a school psychologist, I believe in empowering parents to embrace this holistic view of child development at home.

The Whole Child Approach prioritizes social-emotional learning, challenges both parents and kids to grow together, and aligns with the best traditional parenting style.

To implement it now, listen actively, encourage curiosity, balance structure and flexibility, promote emotional intelligence, and celebrate your child’s individuality.

Remember, you’re the heartbeat of your child’s world—embrace your authenticity, prioritize self-care, and trust in your ability to make good decisions. 

If you’re ready to unlock your child’s full potential, join me in making the complex more comprehensible, one piece of content at a time by subscribing to the blog so that you don’t miss a new post.

Remember, you’ve got this.

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