May 2023

Don’t be a shy baby!

Parents worry their child will be shy, as confidence is recognised as the most fundamental characteristic

A new study has revealed that parents of children aged 0-3 years are concerned with their child’s development. Half of parents (49%) said they were concerned with 30% stating their child’s timidness was cause for their concern.

However, it’s not just being a shy child that is worrying parents. Over a quarter (27%) were worried about their child not being able to stand up for themselves and 25% were also anxious about their child being able to make friends.

The survey, which was conducted by premium children’s brand, Stokke, explored the concerns parents have when raising their children and how they feel about development in the early years of their child’s life.

Nearly a third (31%) of parents believe confidence is the most important characteristic for their child to develop, followed by kindness (22%) and being well-mannered (14%).

Establishing their own identities

The research also highlights parents’ recognition of the importance of children establishing their own identities from an early age. Nearly two thirds (63%) said choice was an important characteristic that allows them to build their own personality and identity. Those surveyed noted that enabling choice allows their child to build their confidence (59%) and 48% said letting their child make their own decisions is important as it allows their child to make their own mistakes.

This is in comparison to just 11% who deemed providing choice unimportant at this age, due to the belief that children should learn that some choices in life are made for them.

With the first years of life setting the foundation for everything to come and the ability to create good and meaningful relationships being determined before our first birthday, it’s no surprise that 51% believe words of affirmation to children are important in developing their child’s confidence.

Over half (57%) also recognised socialising/making friends and being a good role model themselves (54%) as fundamental components in early year development.

By making their children feel seen, heard and supported in the everyday, Stokke wants to ensure they are giving parents the right tools and products to help raise confident and happy children.

Tips for parents

Child Psychologist and Broadcaster, Kate Silverton, is working with Stokke to help alleviate parental concerns around child development and has shared her tips to raise a confident and happy child:

‘There’s No Such Thing as Naughty’

Understanding the science that explains how our children’s brains develop, and how that shapes their behaviour reveals they’re not naughty, they’re just trying to communicate how they feel and what they’re thinking, in the only way they know how. Children have very immature brains at this stage so we cannot judge them by our own standards, it’s an entirely unfair comparison! Understanding the science around brain development and behaviour helps enormously with parenting because it explains everything about our children’s behaviour, including and especially tantrums and tears! It also helps us to bring our children quickly back to calm.

Trust that you are your child’s best toy

Parents do not need to feel pressure in buying lots of educational toys. I’d love for parents to feel more confident to follow their instincts when it comes to being with their children. Science simply confirms what Nature already knows: our children don’t need to be ‘doing’ in these early years. They need to ‘be’, and by that I mean be with and alongside us as their guide. Parents are more powerful than they know. I always say the best toy for a baby is the parent’s face. Every look, every smile, every interaction with you is stored in your baby’s ‘memory bank’, building up all important connections that will help children to ‘read emotional and physical cues’ later in life. It’s why I support the design of Stokke’s prams such as Xplory X for example, as research shows prams that are forward facing enable babies and young children to have maximum exposure to their parents’ faces, building lots of brilliant and positive neural connections as they go.

Help your child regulate their emotions – this is vital for wellbeing

Emotional, or self-regulation is a crucial skill that all children need to learn. It’s far more important at this age than any ‘academic’ or traditional educational achievement. It sounds simple but helping a child to learn how to manage their big emotions is one of the biggest and best investments you will ever make for your child. We can do that when we welcome ALL emotions - even and especially anger! Rather than dismiss our young children as ‘naughty’ we must reframe ‘tantrums’ as simply a sign that our children are experiencing emotional overwhelm and need our help to come back to calm.

Play Play Play!

The eminent neuroscientist, Jack Panksepp, was very clear on this… the best thing you can do for your child’s ‘education’ is to get down on the floor and play with them. Your delight and attention is all the education your child needs. At this age we want to focus on building a good sense of self and a healthy esteem. What better way than to have mum/dad/grandma/my teacher, delight in what I am doing - if they enjoy me, so I can enjoy being me.

Put the phone aside

I appreciate we live in a modern world where technology has changed the way we operate, and our phones are often not far from our side. But if we are on our phones in front of our children the message they internalise is that mum/dad loves this thing more than me. They do not have sufficient life experience or brain capacity to understand that you have a work email or important call to take. Being really mindful of our screen time, especially in front of young children whose brain is still developing is vital. Your child needs to see your face peering at them from the pram or dinner table - not the back of a phone. The Tripp Trapp brings your child, from newborn, right up to the dinner table. Involving them in the conversation and being a part of mealtimes with the family – the heart of the family home – Tripp Trapp helps children and adults' bond, connect and form a deeper relationship no matter the age. Putting away our phones in front of our children will go a long way to building strong connections and ensuring healthy brain development. It is also why we want to set up healthy mealtime routines - no phones - but all sat around the table together.

Kate concludes: “I would say the only questions you need to ask - does your child feel safe, loved and understood?”

With help from child psychologists and researchers, Stokke do everything they can to support parents and caregivers on this shared journey called parenthood. This is crucial as supported and supportive parents make for confident children and better communities.

This is why all Stokke products are designed to foster and harness connection between child and adult. Whether that’s at home at the dinner table with one of their award-winning highchairs, including Tripp Trapp®, Stokke® Clikk™, Steps™ or Nomi®, in the nursery or child’s room with Sleepi™ or MuTable™, or exploring the world together with Stokke® Xplory® X or the Limas Carrier. Stokke products are here every step of the way.

About the research

An online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 1,002 respondents from the UK, all of whom were parents of children aged 0-5 years old. The research fieldwork took place on 28th March – 31st March 2023. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.