Early years are crucial for the healthy mental and physical development of your child. Every parent frets about this, wondering if they’re making the right decisions. They seem so small and frail, and any mistake makes us feel insecure. Am I doing what’s right for my kid? What if I mess it up and they end up unprepared for the harsh realities of life? But children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and if you give them a good base to build on, they’ll grow up into marvellous human beings. Want to know which steps are important in this process? Let’s chat about them.
You will be asked a million questions, and it will become very exhausting at one point, especially if you don’t know the answer. Why is the sky blue, anyway? However, this kind of curiosity is probably the healthiest habit a person can develop. Let them ask, and don’t be afraid to tell them “I don’t know. Let’s find out together.” This will encourage them to seek answers on their own, to never settle for things or let themselves be fooled. Let them hunger for knowledge, let them learn about the world and you’ll be surprised at how wise a child can become.
Like for most Australian parents, the best way to do this is to be a good example. Healthy habits are very important, as they’ll take what they learn now into adulthood. Hygiene takes priority because it’s the basis of health, so teach them to wash their hands properly, to brush their teeth every day, and to take regular baths. Developing a routine is important because kids respond well to the kind of structure routines provide. Another thing to keep in mind are dentist and doctor visits. If you schedule regular appointments and explain why it’s important to go, you won’t have any issues with things like minor interventions or getting invisalign in Maroubra from your favorite dentist. They will have already developed plenty of trust for medical workers, and hospitals and clinics won’t seem so scary.
Did you know that mothers who read while they are pregnant tend to give birth to babies with higher IQ? Books are useful to children even in infancy, and you should introduce them as early as possible. First by reading to them even while they are babies, and then slowly giving them picture books and interactive books and teaching them to read early on. Help them associate words with their meaning, and instead of shiny plastic toys, gift them books for their birthday. Children who read do better at school, and books are a good way to learn compassion, empathy, and to develop mental prowess.
Sports are a pathway to health for young kids. With the rates of obesity in children rising, it’s important to get them to engage in some activity, whether they pick dancing, football, basketball or martial arts. Teach them to love sports from early on, and sign them up for something they find fun, and get excited about. This will teach them coordination and agility early on, and they will grow strong and capable. Couple this with lessons about healthy food and the importance of nutrition. Reduce fast food treats to an absolute minimum, and play some fun food games with them to make the learning experience fun.
Stop cleaning up after your kid. Even small children can do simple tasks, like putting their toys away, and later on they can help you wash the dishes, or clean up the table after dinner. If they don’t finish their homework for school because they were lazy, don’t cover for them. Teach them that actions have consequences, and that finishing all your chores in time actually gives you more time to play.
In the end, don’t forget the most important bit – love and support. Be there for your child, listen to them with patience and without judgement, and keep open communication. If they feel safe and loved, they’ll grow up happy.