The first 5 years matter the most.
Every parent wants the best for the children; in fact more often than not you want more for them than you had yourself. Your reason is simple and it is one of love. You hope they achieve more, are happier, and fulfilled, and believe in possibility.
What we know now about early childhood development is a substantially more than our parents knew. And knowing this gives us an advantage in helping our little ones receive the right early childhood education and development.
We now know that the first 3 years of our children’s lives’ account for 90% of the brain development. And the quality of the relationships and learning environments are critical in these early stages for babies and toddlers.
The experiences they have in the initial years very much lay the foundation for their lives. And as we want to create a strong foundation for our children it is important that we provide a safe, nurturing, and learning environment.
Some things we can do to help set up this foundation are to provide our children with good nutrition, nurturing and predictable environments. Simple things like cuddles, reading to them, using more complex language, explaining things to them, and being responsive and warm.
We need to play with them, and encourage play, and know that they are watching us all the time and learning from what we do, not what we say. Our children are born ready to learn, and exposure to language, mathematics, puzzles, and safe social environments all add to their early development and help establish a strong foundation for the future.
How we parent matters, and whilst we all have access to different means and resources, some have more than others. We all have the most valuable resource available for our children, and that is love.
So to recap your little one is born ready to learn, and if they are exposed to love, good nutrition, a safe and secure environment, reading, and interactive play you are off to a great start.
There is a lot to cover in the area of early childhood development and we will do our best to bring you the most up to date and practical information as we continue this blog.
And please let us know if there are any areas you would like us to cover in coming posts?
How do I discipline my child fairly? How do I know that it will work, and I am doing it the right way? For many parents, these are the questions we ask ourselves.
How do we create the best values, and do the right thing by our children and help mould Adults who are responsible, caring, and have strong values. The best place to start is to define what discipline is. Discipline is about teaching and helping them regulate their own behaviour, emotions and actions.
Usually when our kids, are acting in a way that we do not agree with, it can be the simple fact that they do not yet understand what we expect of them. Also, it can be a way of expressing their feelings that they do not know how to express any other way.
A great way but one that can be challenging is to ask them questions. For example:
Is there something wrong, are you feeling bad or upset?
Do you need a cuddle, or some love?
Identifying the cause of the behaviour is the best place to start, as when we identify this we can also help our children express what is going on. If you want your child to do something, explaining why is often helpful to the outcome. For example “When you eat vegetables, you are making your body strong and healthy.”
Having a routine and structure also helps, as does allowing your child to be involved in decisions. For example in our home, we brush our teeth before bed that is a rule we all follow, so this has become easy to implement. We tell our daughter, she has only one more show to watch on television, and to come and tell us when it is over. She always proudly runs in the kitchen to tell me she has finished watching the show, at which point we both turn the television off.
And if she is misbehaving we have found it best to ask her why? She is strong willed, so we are and will have some debates :).
Our children learn by our actions, having rules, and being involved in the decisions. When your child simply won't behave and you feel there needs to be consequences, they need to be aligned with the behaviour.
They need to happen soon after the event as practical. As the longer you leave it the less likely the child will know why they are being punished. They need to know what the best behaviour is, and what you expect of them. Your child always needs to feel loved, safe, secure and listened too.
Your Baby (0-1)
Your baby needs no discipline at all they do not yet understand the world and they are simply trying to communicate with you. Another misconception that we will touch on is that you cannot spoil your baby with too much love. That is right, it is impossible.
They need to learn new skills, you are their teacher, and showing them the way in a calm and well-communicated manner is the best approach. At this age, the do not understand consequences, and if they express their feelings it is best to acknowledge and listen to them. For example, they might say they do not feel like breakfast, and the best thing to do is gently prod them throughout the morning, and ask them if they are hungry yet? Eventually, they will eat, and there is no point forcing them.
3 to 4 years old
We are still very much teaching at this age, and we need to show and explain to our children what we expect of them. If they feel loved and understood, they will be more likely to go along with your request. It is a lot like the Television example we gave above. If you tell them in advance or show them they will be more inclined to follow.
5 - 12 Years
At this age, your child certainly knows more about consequences, and they have started to understand a lot more about themselves. At this age, you can start to tell your child about your feelings, and what makes you behave in certain ways. This helps them understand other perspectives and behaviours.
It is also helpful to ask them about their feelings and thoughts, so that they may share with you how they see the world. Remember we are all-different, and just because they are your child does not mean they are going to see the world they way you do.
At this age, it is important to understand your child and build an open and healthy communication channel.
Discipline is a tricky subject, but in summing up the consequences need to match the action. Before the age of 4, it is best just to build trust and communicate with your child. And from five onwards, if they are running around the house and knock over a drink, then they should clean it up. But taking their bike off them for a week is not aligned with the action.
We hope these ideas are helpful, and would welcome any questions you might have. Staying calm is sometimes a challenge, but one that will reward you and your child for a lifetime.
As you know music is one of the most magical forms of entertainment and enjoyment, from the moment we are born. And for most of us this entertainment never ceases.
The wonderful thing about music is not only is it enjoyable but it taps into a number of areas for child development. A study by “Joyce Eastlund Gromko” found that children who receive music training will develop aural skills. They learn words faster than children who do not learn music.
I guess when we think about this further, I do not know about you, but when I recite the alphabet I sing it in my head. I enjoy the song, and because I enjoy I am sure I sang it many times. When I was younger, I probably wanted to learn it, and was motivated to do so.
I don’t know if such a test exists, but wouldn’t it be interesting to see how different children performed. One hearing the alphabet through instruction, and the other learning it through music? My guess would be that the one who enjoyed learning the alphabet through music would learn it quicker, and hold onto the information more permanently.
In fact there are a number of things that music is commonly believed to have an effect on, when it comes to child development;
Creativity - when your little one, makes words up because they forget how they go
Dance - Motor skills
Team Work & Social Skills - Playing music with other children
And let's not forget fun.
Music plays a crucial role in child development, as it builds and develops social, emotional, and intellectual skills.
So go ahead sing to your little one, bang the table with a wooden block, play music to them, and listen to it until you know the words yourself.
I often find myself these day’s driving along listening to nursery rhymes singing the songs to realise I am the only one in the car. Only sometimes do I then put the radio on :).
I love the enjoyment music brings my children, and how quickly our daughter learned her ABC through the song. Could there be a more enjoyable way to learn them?
We would love to hear about what your little one has learned through music, their favourite song, or instrument?
Music is magical and so are children, it seems like the perfect combination!
My Baby, Their Future
From the very moment your little one is born, they start learning and developing. They realise that someone is there to care for them and love them. They recognise your face, how you smell, your touch, and that you will be there for them when they need you.
And there are many things you can do for them from the moment they are born, and as they develop. We will just cover the first three months in today’s post.
Initially just holding and singing to them and talking to them is a great start. They will feel safe, comforted, and protected from a very foreign place. You can look for early signals of their needs, by the tone of how they cry. Do they just need comforting? Or are they rubbing their eyes and tired, or is it a cry of need because they have to be changed, or are they are hungry?
This is certainly a challenging and very rewarding time. One where the bond and communication between you both develop. And they learn that when they communicate they can be heard and more importantly understood.
Soon they start to smile:), and there is nothing more heart-warming than watching this happen. For two reasons, you know they are happy, and you taught them how to express this, it is your smile you are seeing.
Very soon they can hold your finger, and grip things. This is when we should give them books, teddy bears, different textures and toys to hold onto. And wow what a day when they start to discover their feet and little hands, the look they get in their eyes is just magical.
Despite some misinformed opinions, you cannot spoil your baby with love. In fact I do not think you can spoil anyone with love, so helping them feel good, comforting them, helps them trust and manage their own feelings.
We also feel it is important that you read to them from the very beginning, as your little one is born with 100 million neurons (brain cells). And when you spark activity in the brain you are starting to develop their synapse’s (which is just the road or highway between the brain cells). You are obviously developing their minds.
So right from the beginning you can start to develop their mind through touching, reading, music, love, smiling, feeding and comforting.
They are your precious gift to the world, and you are their world. We would love to hear about your early experiences, and also what you have learned along the way?