The early years of your child’s life are the most crucial, as it is during this time that the brain triples its weight and establishes thousands of billions of nerve connections.
According to paediatric experts, this is also a time of great discovery for children as their language, basic motor skills and thinking start to flourish. They are now more aware of how things work in the world, and are able to understand their own feelings and pick up those of others around them.
With this in mind, it is crucial to take extra care of the things that we say and lessons that we would like to impart to them, for these will shape them into the person that they will become in the future.
To get things off on the right path, you can start by instilling these five values in your children during the first years:
Children learn best by observing what you do and how you interact with others throughout the day, so the way to encourage your children to be truthful is to practice truthfulness yourself.
“If there’s a discrepancy between what you say and what you do, your kids are just going to ignore what you told them. But if your actions are consistent with your words, then your message is going to be reinforced,” stressed Dr Gary Hill, Ph.D., Director of Clinic Services at The Family Institute at Northwestern University.
On the other hand, it is also important to try not to overreact if your child lies to you. Developmental Psychologist, Susan Ayers Denham, affirms to parents that before the age of 3 or 4, toddlers are not able to fully grasp the concept of lying, as they are unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy.
They key is to take time to listen to their explanation and help them find a way to tell you the truth.
Perseverance is a value that you should encourage in your kids from a very young age. During this time, children are likely to keep trying until they can manage a task successfully (e.g. learning to feed themselves). As they grow up, they will start comparing their abilities with their peers and siblings, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
As a parent, it is important to let your child know that you are proud of him/her and give praise for the effort that he/she has put in. When he/she feels discourages, guide him/her towards the right path – without “spoon-feeding” by solving the problem for them youself.
When practiced from the start, your child will make it a point to give his/her best in everything that he/she does while growing up.
We often overlook the importance of instilling in our children the ability to love with all their hearts. More on this on the next page…