This article is very much about things that are on my mind right now. The question I am asking myself is what is development? In the last week I have accompanied my eldest daughter on two hospital visits. The immanency of her going from my first born child to the mother of my first grandchild can’t escape me for long.
I still find it so strange to imagine her as a mother in her own right. She’s my little baby. How could she now be a grown woman about to bring her own child into the world. But there can be no doubts that she is, and before the end of November I will be officially a grandfather.
So I have had a hand in her development, and look forward to playing a part in that of our next generation.
What do I mean by development. Development is process, it is the transformation over time, that is both cumulative and systematic; it involves change.
- The change must be orderly—not random fluctuations of behaviour.
- The change must result in a consistent modification in behaviour.
- The change must contribute to a higher level of functioning in the individual.
So my future grandchild’s future development will involve her growth throughout her lifespan. This includes all aspects of human growth, including physical, emotional, intellectual, social, perceptual, and personality development.
Everyone that will be involved in her life will have a unique contribution to play. Each of our on-going interactions will nurture some influence upon her.
I can’t help but keep thinking back to that day when Laura-Jayne was born. Of course I was present at the birth of my own baby. The birthing experience gave me a really amazing attachment to her from that very first moment . I fell in love with her from the second I saw her for that very first time. I can’t wait to feel the magic the first time I see my new grandchild. But I also know we all have a massive weight on our shoulder to ensure this new born child’s development.
Infants must grow to be children, then adolescents, and then adults. Their journey needs to be one of physical, cognitive, and social emotional health. I believe that both the parents and grandparents play an important role in their child’s education. You’re there to help and guide them as they make their way through their development.
To my knowledge there is no definitive roadmap and that for any child to reach their full potential, their guardians have to find the way for themselves.
My research over the years indicates to me that the early childhood phase from birth to nine years is the most important phase for development.
This is a period of rapid physical, mental, emotional, social and moral growth and development. These years are a time when they acquire concepts, skills and attitudes that lay the foundation for lifelong learning. These include the acquisition of language, skills required for learning to read and write, basic numeracy concepts and skills, problem solving skills, a love of learning and the establishment and maintenance of relationships.
Every child, every parent, and every family is unique. The relationship we form with our children is as special as they are. Raising a child brings great joy and also, at certain times moments of great challenge.
As we learn to be parents, we rely on many sources of wisdom and guidance, including our own family, culture and traditions. It is the Parents daily actions and decisions that shape the lives and futures of their children.
A growing body of research indicates that providing very young children with a stimulating and supportive environment in which to learn and grow has significant positive impacts later in life.*
Here are a few tips of things you can be doing from the start.
- Play with your child and show affection. Your child needs and wants your time and attention. Read and play with your child. Hold and hug him. Love and affection help children feel happy and secure.
- Talk to your child and share books. Talking, reading and singing will help your child’s language grow. Share the songs and stories that are important to you and your family. Your toddler may choose the same book over and over, but that is all right because young children learn through repetition.
- Provide safe places for your child to explore and play in your home and outdoors. Children learn through exploring their environment. Be there to assist when needed.
- Provide regular routines with clear and consistent rules. Through routines, children find comfort in knowing what to expect and what is expected of them. Rules should be clear, but not too many.
- Offer real choices and accept either one. “Would you like milk or juice?” This helps your child feel a sense of control, while you are setting the limits. Let her choose what book she wants to read or which game to play. Your child will feel pride in making the choice.
- Be patient with toilet learning. Your child may stay dry for long periods of time. This can be an early sign that your child is ready for toilet learning. Recognize and encourage your child’s efforts. Some children can control their toileting needs by age two; others may lack this control until age three or four. Keep realistic expectations and a sense of humor. Accidents are part of learning.
- Help your child with tantrums. Show that you understand how your child feels, but let them know that tantrums or angry outbursts will not give them what they want. Try to ignore tantrums unless your child risks being hurt, hurting someone else, or destroying something.
- Focus on “do’s” instead of “don’ts.” When adults spend more time showing children what they can do, rather than what they cannot do, children are more successful. Rather than “No, don’t touch that,” try to interest your child in a different toy or activity: “You may use the crayons on the paper (not the walls).”
- Model the behavior you want to see in your child. Young children copy parents’ behaviors. If you are patient, caring and kind, your child will learn to treat others as you do. When parents spank, hit, scream or call children hurtful names, children may feel that they are not loved and are likely to copy that behaviour with others.
All parents and grand parents have special responsibilities for the growth and development of their children. Their job is to give children experiences that will help them grow.
Anyway I have no doubts I’ll be writing many more grand parenting blog posts. I’ll keep you informed on how things progress.
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