In a culture and society where everything has become “on demand” and a constant wave of likes and hearts through social media it is important to remember the foundation of child development and the true needs of our children.
1. Rest. They play hard. Their bodies need rest to grow and develop. Teaching children that this is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and necessary for all humans to be their best.
2. Uninterrupted family time. Put away your phone and devices. The most important people to a child are those under the same roof. Make family time purposeful and protected.
3. Outdoor play time where they can explore and create. Let them experience a puddle and dig in the dirt, collecting “treasures”. All kids need free time to imagine.
4. Rules and expectations. Be clear. Be concise. And don’t be afraid to give them. Fair does not always mean equal.
5. Consistent discipline. If a rule is broken, a child needs to know what to expect. All fear is not a bad thing. There is a fear that can represent respect – this helps us to understand limits and boundaries.
6. Parents who love them and love each other. Security begins here. Children are sensitive to emotions and will pick up on your own fears and anxieties, similarly they will also sense what you are passionate and excited about.
7. For you as a parent to say “no” sometimes. Your child does not need a lollipop or a new shirt every time you go to Walmart. This in turn shows our children an example of financial responsibility – to not constantly indulge in every immediate want we have.
8. Hugs. Physical touch affects the development of children. They want to feel that they belong and are part of a group that accepts them for who they are.
9. The ability to share their feelings about anything as long as they are respectful and the respect to understand privacy and for us as adults to not always be pressing them with questions.
10. The most precious gift that a parent can give any child is the ability to believe in themselves, have a positive attitude and faith. As adults we are role models to our children. Let us show them consistency and teach them through our actions what positivity, belief and faith really means. In the toughest times of their lives, they will learn in large part to rely on these skills by the example you display for them.
Maria Montessori recognized this over 100 years ago and it still holds true today
“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future… Let us treat them with all the kindness which we would wish to help to develop in them.” “Free the child’s potential and you will transform him into the world.”
In a world that is increasingly hyper focused on comparisons and concerned about who did something first or better, it is important to remember that just as Life is not a race neither is Learning. This is a journey that we are on together and sometimes the best thing to do is to let go for a bit and enjoy the ride – it only happens once.