You’ve heard it from parents with toddlers and preschoolers. Understanding why kids throw fits, refuse to eat or sleep, or defy simple instructions isn’t always easy. But you can be sure it will continually test a parent’s patience especially when it seems she’s done everything to manage bad behavior yet nothing sticks.
To anyone who is pregnant, parenting already feels like an exhausting prospect. But a new study seems to suggest you can prepare for it and raise a well-behaved child depending — wait for it — on your outlook on life. The findings were based on data collected from over 10,000 preschool children and their parents when they took part in the “Children of the 90s” ALSPAC study in the U.K. that was published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.
Researchers from the University of Bristol asked pregnant women to answer questions about their personalities and attitudes. The moms-to-be were also asked how they prepared for pregnancy and motherhood, and how their kids behaved between six months and five years.
The results showed parents had two views of life, which they labeled “external” and “internal.” Parents who belong to the former outlook believed their actions or efforts have little or nothing to do with what happens to them. They were the ones who were less likely to attend parenting classes, to breastfeed their baby, or have their children vaccinated during the child’s first six months. It showed they had a higher likelihood of having kids who had “difficulties in behaving, sleeping and eating during their first five years of life.”
On the other hand, parents with an “internal” view of life believed that what they do affects what happens to them. It had positive effects on their kids’ social, eating and sleeping behavior even with just one parent with an internal personality. The study shows that moms who were more positive and pro-active in their pregnancy dealt with fewer tantrums, picky eating, and poor bedtime habits.
Parents who are internal also had a greater degree of self-control and self-motivation. Stephen Nowicki, co-author of the study and professor of Psychology at the Emory University in Atlanta, suggested that this was due to five main traits: persistence, feeling of responsibility, a pursuit of information, ability to tolerate a longer delay of gratification and resistance to being coerced.
The ideal obviously is to become internal parents, and that’s where prenatal classes should come in. “We believe that prenatal education programs need to educate parents on how to become more internal before the child is born,” Nowicki said via a press release.
It only proves even more that mindfulness during pregnancy pays off even way after giving birth. Taking the time to slow down when you’re pregnant helps in getting to know yourself better. This process does not happen overnight. Knowing yourself better can help you manage stress and helps you be more confident in your choices.
Being a mom is a major life change and a big responsibility. So use it as a time to let the fact that a human life will be depending on you and your decisions, at least while they also learn from you how to do those things on their own as your child grows. Don’t worry about things you cannot control, but act on the aspects of your pregnancy that you can affect change.