Parenting is an incredible challenge! All you want is for your sweet little kid to have the best of everything in the world. We all have this same thing on our mind when we become parents. As time goes by, this simple wish turns into the most complicated job of all. Let’s see how Ayurveda lends a helping hand!
Ayurveda celebrates parenthood. Giving birth is an immensely important job of continuing the human race. Ayurveda defines conception as a union of sperm, ovum and the soul. Ayurveda dictates that we should embrace and worship this soul, as it is a small part of god (supersoul).
Garbhadhana sanskar is a technique that ensures positive impressions on a baby through disciplined practices done by the parents-to-be. Once the baby is born, all efforts and actions must be in the best interest of the child.
Ayurveda has eight branches. One of these is Koumarbhritya, which is completely dedicated to the health and wellness of children. Kashyapa samhita is the oldest treatise of Ayurveda on koumarbhritya (childcare). It explains, in detail, newborn care, immunity boosting herbal formulations and the healthy growth and development of children. Based on concepts of koumarbhritya, here are 10 parenting tips take from the principles of Ayurveda.
- Celebrate the 16 rituals that mark the major events in your child's life.
Ayurveda denotes the importance of Shodasha samskara (16 rites of passage) in Hinduism. These rituals mark important transformations one has to experience in their life's journey. Samskara literally means to 'make positive impressions' or 'purify'. These samskaras aim to bring out your child`s positive personality and help them understand their new phase of life. In the context of parenting, they guide us through what to do and when. Below are two examples.
- Annaprashana sanskar (first feeding with rice/solid food other than milk) is to be done at 6-8 months of age when the teeth have begun to appear
- Upanayan sanskar is done at the age of 8 years. It is about getting ready to enter an educational system and devoting time to knowledge. This emphasizes the ideal time to shift focus from fun to education and discipline.
- Regulate screen time.
Vaghbhata, creator of the treatise Ashtanga sangraha, advises that infants up to 1 year should not be exposed to very bright and/or artificial light. A moderate amount of mellow sunlight enhances vision but bright sunlight may negatively affect the healthy development of vision. In today’s world, spending time in front of the TV or computer takes up more time than sunlight usually, so here we shift our context from sunlight to screen time. Screen time should not be for more than an hour for children under the age of 3.
- Know and understand your child's Dosha constitution and manas (psychological) constitution.
The Dosha constitution will help you know what health issues to expect and how to prevent them. Manas or psychological constitution will help you know and understand their personality traits.
- Make sure your children go to bed and wake up near the same time every day.
Ayurveda believes in maintaining a natural rhythm in all of life. Following the daily circadian rhythm (getting up by sunrise and sleeping by 10 p.m.) is the best way to ensure complete health. Help your kids to sync with their natural body rhythms by keeping their sleeping and waking schedule regular.
- Feed your kids a balanced diet.
Always use organic, fresh, home cooked, satvik, nourishing food for your children. Include a variety of seasonal fruits.
- Use right reasoning behind the right thing.
Charaka sanhita specifically says to never put a fear of evil or monsters in the mind of a kid to make them do things. Whenever you ask a kid to do a specific task, back it up with reasoning they will understand. This will build up the practice of searching for and knowing the reason behind every decision. They will ask more questions. This might become irritating for a parent but it is a way to nurture their natural creativity and exploration.
- Shift the way you handle your children as they age.
As a Sanskrit proverb goes, 'kids are to be loved until the age of five'. Discipline and rules should be enforced from five sixteen years of age. Once they are around sixteen to seventeen years old, they should be treated more like adults.
For the first five years, let them observe, experiment and experience the surrounding environment. Be careful to treat them with love and respect so they will learn to treat others the same way. After five years old begins the educational phase of a kid’s life. Gaining knowledge and mastering skills necessitates disciplined efforts. Children need to understand importance of discipline and consistency in order to achieve any specific goal. As parents it is our duty to help them realise this. Once they have out grown the educational phase, it is time to face the world on their own. Here, they will need someone to talk to who understands what they are going through and will listen without judgment.
- Do not compare your children to other people.
Every kid is unique in their own way! Support them to achieve their goals without comparing their progress with others'. Let them understand it is okay to fail - what matters is trying their best.
- Help train their minds.
A recent study showed that kids today experience anxiety and stress way more than the kids in the 1950s. Stress is a result of overwhelming demands placed on kids and their ability to meet them. Introduce them to yogic breathing techniques and aasana practice for improved motor skills, focus and cognitive functions.
- Practice Ayurveda yourself!
Kids learn by watching and listening. Start practicing an Ayurvedic way of living for yourself and your children will be more likely to follow.
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The purpose of this article is to provide information about Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health problems please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with our affiliated practitioners. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.