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THE MOST IMPORTANT YEARS
Parents and teachers need to be particularly diligent regarding their children's physical, psychological and emotional well-being during the early childhood years. As this topic is expansive, it will be dealt with in more detail in the future. In the meantime here are some points that are worth serious consideration:
- Provide an environment that is as free from tension as possible. Even babies pick up on negative emotions and often mirror them. Whether from parents, siblings, neighbours, videos or television children become unsettled, insecure and on edge. Don't use the television as a babysitter even if you play videos considered suitable for younger children. It affects their mental well-being.
- Keep the child as free from artificial entertainment as possible. Avoid cartoons and toys that are unnatural.
- It might seem strange, but the best kinds of music for a child are classical, instrumental or vocal music that is melodious and soothing. It is beneficial to avoid jarring, loud and poly-rhythmic styles such as rock music. Sing to and with your children.
- Feed children on wholesome foods low in fat and sugar. Also, reduce manufactured foods that contain refined ingredients and artificial additives. Children should be eating meals at regular times and only three a day. Snacking between meals burdens the stomach and can make children irritable and less cooperative. More information on this topic is found in the article series 'Healthy Body, Healthy Mind' in SnapShot.
- Talk to your child often about positive things even before they can speak or even understand what you are saying. Groups of sounds (words) go into the baby's memory, and they become familiar with them. When they become old enough to speak, they pick up on the words they had heard before and learn them more quickly.
- All verbal correction should be friendly and assertive, not aggressive.
- Don't over stimulate your young children with many toys, gadgets, events, and outings. Children are more likely to feel secure when the social environment is predictable and familiar. If children don't receive a lot of toys, they become more creative.
- Where possible avoid anything that would frighten your child. Situations, where children might feel afraid, may include the behaviour of family or friends, new places or people, animals, videos, television and story books.
- When children are old enough, have them help with appropriate tasks around the home, even if at times it takes longer than if you did it yourself.
Remember, you teach what you allow. Corrective training begins at the cradle. Your authority and the child's willing obedience are desirable, especially in the early years. More information about this topic will be found in the article series 'Behaviour Management' in SnapShot.
Don't threaten something you are not willing to carry out.
- Try not to solve all your children's problems for them. Children learn resourcefulness and resilience when they experience frustration.
- And remember this most important point. There are no perfect parents, and there are no perfect children. You will make mistakes. When you do, ask the child to forgive you; children are very forgiving. You will be modelling for them what you want them to learn, and that is, the ability to admit fault and to ask for forgiveness. That's not easy for some people.
- Don't do everything for your children who are beyond babyhood; they need to learn to be responsible.
My heart goes out to all parents; it is not an easy job. Good parenting necessarily involves self-sacrifice, and that is another thing that children need to learn at an early age.