Doctors and childcare experts often say, “Trust your intuition when it comes to caring for your child,” but what does that really mean? When everyone you meet has an opinion about what your child should be doing and how you should be caring for him, it can be tricky to figure out what your intuition is saying and and why you should listen to it anyway. Here are 5 reasons to trust your intuition as a parent.
1. You know your child better than anyone else.
As a parent you have watched your child grow from two lines on a pregnancy test to the person he or she is today. Teachers, doctors and other parents may have certain areas of expertise, but you are the expert on your child’s normal level of health, type of behaviour and temperament.
2. Intuition can help bridge distances between parent and child.
When I was a teenager away at University, my mom would often call me just when I was having a difficult time with things. “I was thinking about you a lot and just thought I’d call to say hi,” she always said. These kind of recurrent thoughts are the voice of intuition, and can be a valuable tool for knowing when to step in and when to stay back.
3. Intuition can alert you to danger.
As parents we should always do our best to ensure our children’s safety, but there are times and places that cannot be completely baby-proofed. Several times I’ve suddenly thought, “Where’s Claire?” only to discover my toddler halfway up the stairs beyond the open baby gate. Yes, I should have been more careful about the gate, but thankfully my intuition alerted me to something being amiss.
4. Unmet needs often go in disguise, and intuition can help uncover them.
When I’m practicing gentle discipline with my girls, I try to look at misbehaviour as their way of saying they have needs that are unmet. Since kids don’t usually have the ability to say, “Mom, I’m feeling under-appreciated right now,” I often use my intuition to figure out what those unmet needs might be.
5. Intuition can help you evaluate advice and make decisions.
When I read about a new parenting philosophy or think about trying out a parenting technique, like night weaning, I try to listen to my intuition while simultaneously reading and researching as much as I can about the topic. These are areas where I try to balance my intuition with my intellect, but even when I am primarily reasoning something out I always have a finger on the pulse of my intuition. If a decision just feels wrong in my gut, I wait until I have more information and feel more settled before taking action.
Intuition is a way of knowing that is hovering beneath the surface of our intellect. It can be heard and felt in bodily sensations, sudden or persistent thoughts and dreams, as well as a generalized “knowing”. Whether you call it listening to your gut or paying attention to that little voice in your head, your intuition is worth listening to, especially when it comes to parenting.