Six Steps For Raising Happy, Healthy Children
It is every mother's dream to raise a healthy, well rounded child. This is no mean feat and how does one make this dream a reality? It is a scientific fact that babies learn more in their first year than at any other point in time, therefore it is imperative that self esteem is also developed at this stage and in the crucial toddler years. In this regard, there are six key steps to raising a confident child.
Step One: Nurturing
Nurture your offspring. Nurturing is defined as training or upbringing, food or nourishment, care for or educate. Just as food is important for growth in the body, caring for our mental health is important in our progress. The provision of food and shelter cares for physical needs, however a child knows how important he is, by the treatment and care he receives. Discipline forms part of the nurturing process. It is fundamental to every person's upbringing and plays an important role in the adult he or she becomes. Parents who provide a structured environment in which discipline is key, will raise children who are more inclined to be self-controlled.
Step Two: Show & Teach Love
Affection develops during interaction between parent and offspring. Most kids cannot define the word love, but they are aware of what it means from an emotional standpoint. The first place affection is learned is in the home and comes from the child's parents. The saying is true that children live what they learn. Your child knows he is loved by the quality of the attention he receives. Neglect or consistently berate a child and the result will be a withdrawn individual with no desire to communicate with his parents and this lack of positive interaction will lead to problems outside the home. Nothing is as important to a child as to know that he is loved. Tell your child often that you love him. It's never been known to hurt, has it?
Step Three: Foster Effective Communication
Communication in relationships is essential. Humans communicate through word usage, body language and facial expressions. Your baby recognized your voice as early as his time in the womb and once born, he became an insatiable sponge, sucking up information, so it is never too early for him to start learning.
There will never be a better time to impart knowledge than those first few years at home. Babies love being sung to and will speak earlier if suitably stimulated. A case in point is my three year old nephew. He uses words that are not common to those of his age, but his grasp of the English language is as a direct result of early development of his language skills. He is outgoing, smart and is not shy of starting conversation with adults.
We experience confusion when our kids cannot explain when and where they hurt, but we do have the power to make a difference in their lives. We can stimulate them with songs, books, and should never stop talking to them. You will see your efforts paying dividends as your infant blossoms into a bright little chatterbox.
Step Four: Develop Reasoning Power
The ability to reason goes hand in hand with speech. Your baby can now express himself! As he grows, he will learn to differentiate between right and wrong and while it is essential that he be disciplined, it is also vital that he able to make his own distinctions between what is appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. It does no good to tell a child "Don't do this or that, because I say so." You will get much better results if he knows what reactions will flow from his actions. Children are but smaller, younger versions of adults and do have the capacity to understand if simple language is used to convey messages, especially when outlining the possible repercussions from their actions.
Never underestimate their reasoning power. Youngsters learn by exploring boundaries and even if your explanation does not get through the first time, the result of the choices they make will have an impact. It will always prove a challenge to remain patient in the face of disciplinary problems and there will always be days when our little darlings will try our patience, but it is counterproductive to lose our temper. Apart from not being able to take rational action, we run the risk of having children think that Mommy or Daddy is deranged.
Step Five: Provide Positive Affirmation
In the same way that we are quick to correct when mistakes are made, we should also provide positive affirmation when kids make progress. Think about how good you feel when you have completed a challenging task. It's the same for your child. He needs to know when he has done something great, so go ahead and make a big deal of over his achievements. My little nephew was completely potty trained, just after hitting age three, due in part to the kudos he received each time he went to the toilet by himself from all the adults around him. His mom was very close to becoming discouraged with the seeming futility of the whole potty training process, but racing cars - which he is crazy about - did the trick. She bought a box of thirty miniature cars and each time he managed not to have an accident, he received two or three of these cars, plus congratulations.
A friend of mine caught on to the fact a feeling of importance does wonders for a child's self esteem. I have used this strategy and it works. I tell my nephew regularly that he is the best. Now he supplies the ending to the sentence once I start the opening words. Whenever I ask him if he knows that I love him, he looks at me as if I am crazy and says "Of course". Never forget to tell a child how wonderful he is and make a big deal every time he hits another milestone.
Step Six: Never Make Comparisons
If you have more than one child, never make comparisons between them. This does much to lower self worth and is counterproductive. No one likes being compared to another and found wanting. Every person is precious in their individuality. If we treasure each one for who he is and reassure him that he is special just as he was put on this earth, then his self-confidence will grow.
There is no perfect recipe for raising children, but people have been engaged in this life activity for thousands of years. It is crucial to use wisdom in raising children. If we nurture and love our offspring, foster open communication, develop their reasoning power, give them a positive sense of who they are and avoid comparing them unfavorably with others, it is possible to raise individuals who will become well adjusted citizens of the future.
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