To give your children the best chance of happiness and success as children and later as adults I wrote yesterday about the importance of communication with them from birth, and teaching them how to express their feelings and emotions is critical to achieving emotionally intelligent children and future adults.
The lessons you teach your child from birth will stay with them all their lives, children learn the habits that often accompany them for most of their lives in their formative and developing years, so its giving them the best chance of becoming well adjusted and fully functioning adults right from the start.
Yesterday I wrote three ways to start communicating and helping your child to explore and exprees themselves, I will continue here with some more tips on how to give your child what I feel is a great start in life.
- Enjoy “being” together rather than pushing your child’s development:
Allow your baby or toddler to learn through play and encourage them to develop naturally at their own pace. allow your child to enjoy what they like rather than trying to direct or teach them what you feel is best. Only your child knows what they are ready to learn.
“Bruce McEwen, a neuroendocrinologist at the Rockefeller University, notes that asking children to handle material that their brain is not yet equipped for can cause frustration. Perceiving a lack of control is a major trigger of toxic stress, which can damage the hippocampus, a brain area crucial to learning and memory”
Enjoy your child’s company. Let them be themselves and give your child the empowering message that they are great just how they are.
- Allow and enable your child to express freely all their feelings:
so that your child will feel that their bright and dark sides are wholly accepted. Then they won’t feel pressured to hide their feelings or be inauthentic in order to please us. This one action from you will enable them to develop emotional intelligence and feel accepted and valued.
- Provide the comfort and freedom of parental boundaries
Although young children will seldom express this, it’s stressful and even frightening for them when they feel that they call the shots and have the sense that they are in charge, that their parents will give in to avoid their disappointments and tantrums. Parents need to parent, be in control and make their child feel safe, you should be a gentle, empathic mentor.
- Encourage play as therapy
Encourage the habit of uninterrupted, self-directed play so that your child has plenty of opportunities to benefit from play’s therapeutic values. As your child grows, continue to provide lots of downtime between activities. Value and encourage daydreams and unstructured play, it will help them learn how to be low maintenance child, able to play alone, allowing you time for a break..
- Encourage children to express all of their feelings
Young children need to be listened to when they cry, allowed to release stress and offload their feelings. Contrary to conventional thought, there is not a magical age when this begins. It begins at the beginning.
If your child cries out, respond by letting them know that you are there and that you care. Accept that you don’t understand instinctively why your baby is crying or that you know what to do about it, this will help you not get so stressed too, rather than responding with one of the usual, feeding or changing to stop the crying, try quietly talking to your baby. Remember, crying is a young child’s language, it’s their way to express pain, anger, and sadness. Acknowledge that your child is trying to communicate something and try to learn what it is. Let your child know that they has communicated successfully and that you are trying to understand their need.
- Encourage children to learn to cope with stress and conflict
Encourage children to be problem solvers whenever possible, whether it be during conflicts with peers, while playing with toys, putting on clothes, or finding their thumb. Allow children opportunities to do the things they are capable of doing, we don’t need to give them all the answers, allowing them to find them for themselves is much more beneficial.
“We can look at life as a continuation of conflicts or problems. The more often we have mastered a minute difficulty, the more capable we feel the next time.” – Gerber
- Trusting and believing that your baby is a competent, inner-directed human being capable of making choices is the key to minimizing and processing stress.
A friend once commented to me about my son “Oh, you’re so lucky he’s self-motivated, you don’t have to push him”. Actually I feel he is self-motivated because we never pushed him, he learned how to do it all by himself because we gave him the time and space to learn it..
I hope that you have found my experiences and thoughts on parenting for stress free children and adults useful, please feel free to share your own thoughts below, it’s all about sharing our experiences and helping each other.
Written by Paul Parkin – online counsellor and life coach.
April 23rd 2013