Parenting In Focus: Encouraging your baby’s initiative
It’s exciting to hear that your young child wants to try new things or ask questions to help them learn new things. His initiative allows him to hold on to a task, even if it is difficult to complete. Initiative leads to enthusiasm for something new, asking for help and eager to share new ideas.
It is initiative that encourages him to do extra work or learn a new skill. It is a skill your child will use throughout their life (Promoting Resilience for Now and Forever, Devereux Center for Resilient Children, M. Mackrain and KB Cairone).
So what should you look for in your child that shows they are initiative building? Look for him to do something that has been difficult or try different ways of solving problems. See if he shows an interest in learning new things or if he keeps trying even when unsuccessful.
What can you do to encourage initiative? First, get involved in your child’s game. Let him be the leader, but you can ask questions to express his ideas. Questions like “How does it work?” Or “I wonder how you did it.”
Teach yourself how to do something. Young children love to be in charge. Let him tell you what to do. This allows him to practice taking initiative.
Promote his interests. If he likes building towers, do one with him. If he enjoys gardening, plant seeds and watch them grow.
Get him involved in completing simple daily tasks. He can help set the table, fold the laundry or prepare a salad. Don’t expect him to do everything by himself. Let him do the parts he can.
Do things regularly as a family. This helps him to be prepared for these times. Children feel safe when life has a certain order and they know what is coming next. This allows you to regularly read stories before bed, go to a local parade every year, visit friends and relatives regularly, and play games on weekends.
Ask him to help throughout the day. Even if you can get the job done faster and better, invite him to help. He will be proud to help do a real job.
Have fun together every day. Play games together. Take turns who goes first at games. Go to the playground. Be sure to play on the device as if you were back to its age.
Discover what is special about him. Every child is special. Comment on your child’s particular strengths. “Riley, you tell stupid jokes that make me laugh.”
Help him when he needs to learn something new. Help only until he can do the job. If he does the challenging task on his own, it will make him long to try again next time.
Speak out loud as you help your child solve a problem. To find a solution, ask him questions: “Jack, you want to go outside, but it’s raining heavily. What could we do inside? ”After he has an idea, talk about the steps he has taken. Help him see how he did it. So he can do it alone in the future.
Take the time to help him develop the skills necessary to encourage him to take initiative. It is a key to long-term social and emotional development.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher Program.