Parenting In Focus: Key occasions throughout your baby’s early years
The first nine months of pregnancy through the first five years of life are considered the critical years to lay the foundation for learning. The nutritional, social, emotional and educational conditions of a mother have a great influence on the future development, educational and social success of the child.
The bond, social interactions and relationships that are established between parents and children in the first year of life influence self-esteem, language, brain development, worldview, values, personality and relationships with others.
The environment in a child’s first three years of life should be stimulating, caring, supportive and loving. If a child is spoken to, read aloud, researched, experimented and used all five senses, they are more ready for school.
The importance of these early years cannot be overestimated. Your child needs you to help them learn the essential things they need to know.
Before your child goes to school, they need to learn about emotions. He begins to experience more complex emotions than he did as an infant or toddler. He needs additional help to understand and control his feelings.
Here are a few steps you can take to help him deal with these new emotions:
• If you find him to be very emotional, stay close. Comfort him during these times and tell him it’s okay to feel this way.
• State how he feels about him. “You must be very sad that game time is ending” or “You look frustrated with this puzzle” are good things to say. Learning to recognize emotions is your first step in controlling yourself.
• Set clear boundaries for emotional behavior. Hurting other people or property is not a good way to deal with feelings, and one should learn that harmful actions have consequences.
• Observe your own emotions and use them responsibly. If necessary, take a “break”. Your child will learn the most from watching how you handle your emotions. (“Life with Preschooler: Parenting from 3 to 5 years”, Talaris Institute.)
From birth, your child forms beliefs about his or her self-worth. Give your child a little reassurance that you are there for them. These six simple ideas make a huge difference. These simple things teach him that you care about him. He needs that trust.
• I will get my child up earlier so we can spend some quality time together before the day starts
• I don’t use my cell phone to do something with my child
• I will remember to be eye to eye with my child when I need their attention
• After work, I spend five minutes with my child before going through the mail or calling back
• I plan at least one excursion or special activity with my child every week
• I will remember the importance of praising my child so that they can learn to feel good
Don’t forget that big hugs frame all of these ideas.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher Program and former executive director of the Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, carers, and grandparents. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.