In the last column, I wrote about how parents can help their children become resilient. For the next few columns, I would like to touch on child development and the importance of positive parenting at each stage of development. This column is the first of five columns intended to help you understand the connection between your child’s development and parenting practices.
Growth and development in children occurs over four time periods:
• Infancy (birth through 2 years)
• Early childhood (preschool, 2-6 years)
• Middle childhood (6 -12 years; elementary)
• Adolescence (12-18 years; middle and high school)
Child development has many components: physical, brain, cognitive (thought/learning), social, and emotional. All of these are interrelated, meaning each component can impact other components of development. There are many factors that influence the healthy development of a child. All children are born with certain genes, inherited from each parent. This is what is often called “nature,” and all children have traits and behaviors based on their genetics. But, at the same time, all children experience what we call “nurture.” Nurture refers to all the environmental influences in a child’s life. All children have experiences during their childhood (experiences in situations with other people). All children are exposed to environmental influences (family, school, community, peers, etc.). Parents are the MOST influential factor in a child’s life when it comes to nurturing. From the food they feed a child to the way they talk to and interact with a child; parents are a constant influence. As a parent you want to give your children a good start in life - you nurture, protect and guide them. Parenting is a process that prepares your child for independence.
Healthy development in children occurs when children can have their physical, social, emotional, cognitive/educational needs met. Proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, and positive interaction with adults are very important. Another key factor is providing a safe and loving/nurturing home. There are some positive parenting tips that work for any family, regardless of culture or income. Recently a large research study identified positive parenting practices that supported a child’s healthy development. Here are the findings:
• Respond to your child/children in a predictable way.
-Honor your commitments
-Avoid using threats
-Learn to respond rather than react
• Show your child warmth and be sensitive.
-Listen to them
-Ask about their feelings and reflect those feelings
-Seek to understand first
• Have routines and rules.
-Routines are good for everyone. Set bedtimes, homework times, etc., help children experience structure
-Develop rules and consequences early on
-Provide your children with choices regarding their behavior and provide consequences that are appropriate to the behavior. Children learn responsibility using this approach
-Develop ground rules with your children when they are old enough to understand and provide input about the rules and consequences
• Talk with, and to your children. This may seem simple, but many parents are involved in their own lives/activities/phones, etc., to the point of not communicating with their children. Resist talking to your children about your own problems.
• Share books with your children and model reading.
• Support health and safety.
-Develop rules for your children’s safety and help them understand these rules
-Provide nutritional meals
-Make sure your child gets enough sleep
-Limit screen time
-Get outside together
-Play games, exercise, have fun together as a family
• Use appropriate discipline without harshness and yelling.
Parents using these parenting skills and actions can help their child stay healthy, be safe, and be successful in many areas. Next week I will focus on birth through infancy. Happy parenting!
The information Roaten is providing is based on research and research-based practices as well as from well-known theories. The parenting information and tips offered is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal or other professional assistance or therapy.
The information found in this column is not intended to treat or diagnose; nor is it meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional.
This column, its author and The Rockport Pilot are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any information provided that may be used in parenting. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.