Loving very young children in our families…

by Rod Smith

1. As parents, don’t fall for the myth that moms are more important than are dads, or that moms are somehow better equipped or “more natural” with babies and small children than are fathers. Such thinking robs all the participants in the family of fully enriching each other. Fathers are as equipped as mothers to care for newborn babies and small children. If dad is not, or does not feel as if he is, I’d suggest mom get out of the way so he can learn! This, by the way, is not something the mother ought to try and teach the father. He has to learn it himself with the baby being the only teacher!

2. Teach your child to handle reasonable tasks as soon as possible. Getting shoes, placing laundry in a laundry basket, taking dishes to the sink, are tasks even the very young can learn. Applaud accomplishments with gusto! The more autonomous (self-reliant) a young child can see she is capable of being, the more of a self-starter she is likely to become. Don’t do for children (or for adults for that matter) what they are able to do for themselves.

3. Talk to children, even babies, using real words, real sentences, employing a “normal” voice. While I am sure “baby talk” serves a purpose, I’d suggest it is easier for a child to learn to speak a legitimate language, in the first place, than to have to make a transition from mom and dad’s goo-goo-gibberish to the language of the general population.

4. Throw off the “third person” act: “Mommy wants Biggie-Boo to take a tubby-tubbby-bubby-bubby!” says a mother as if she is talking for someone other than herself in an unidentifiable language. “I want you in the bathtub” is a lot less confusing. Children need parents who understand what it means to be, and have, a strong sense of “I”. Use it.

5. Tell your children, even babies, what’s going on. It is a good habit to develop even if the child is very young. Including your child in matters pertaining to his life develops within you the habit of creating an environment of cooperation and respect. Treat your toddler with the quality of respect you’d like him to offer you when he is fourteen, sixteen, twenty and thirty.

6. Play with your young child as much as possible. Include lots of physical contact. Young children need to able to totally “let go” in a parent’s arms, climb over your body; dangle upside down while totally comfortable trusting in your strength. A daily routine of physical contact enhances a young child’s ability to trust and enjoy people and the world around her. Remember children measure wealth in time enjoyed with mom and dad, in walks, in shared sunsets, shared games and in time spent wrestling with mom and dad on the carpet.

7. Dump your TV, DVD player, games and all other forms time-wasting nonsense! Your young child doesn’t need a parent on an electronic leash, whose life revolves around what’s on TV and who is unable to enjoy life without a remote in his hand or a movie blaring throughout the house, Remember, you are the kind of adult your child is most likely to become. I am astounded at the number of parents I meet who never, or seldom, read a book, and who then blame the school because their child doesn’t read. It is you, the parent, and not the teacher, who is the primary influence upon who and what your child will become. Do you really want your son or daughter to grow up unable to enjoy life without mind-numbing TV and the paralyzing power of electronic games?

2 Comments to “Loving very young children in our families…”

  1. Thanks for the information. This is very powerful and really makes one think.

  2. thanks Mark — I am glad you read this and I was very glad to meet iwith you this evening. Rod

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