No one ever said parenting was easy. And while it can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have, it’s undeniably hard and there will definitely be days where you don’t have all the answers and the responsibilities feel overwhelming. You know the first five years of a child’s development are the most important and character forming. You want to do the right thing, but what exactly is that? We know great parenting is complex and the challenges are always shifting. Take it back to basics by focusing on passing on these healthy habits, which are the foundation of good physical and mental health, and you won’t be going too far wrong.
Teach Emotional Resilience
The benefits of making sure children are able to understand, express and process their feelings are vast. It isn’t just behavioural problems you’ll be tackling head on – studies have shown that children with better emotional health are also better learners. It also makes your children into skilled communicators – great at reading non-verbal cues, using different communication styles and techniques, and negotiating with others. Children are frequently expected not to be entitled to have negative emotional reactions to things – even though we can’t manage this ourselves as adults a lot of the time. Our emotional response doesn’t really change as we age – we just learn to handle it better and we need to give our children the same skills. So encourage your children to discuss how they are feeling about difficult situations and to find their own solution for making things work. Try to guide them by asking questions and giving options, rather than trying to step in and solve an issue for them. If you give them the tools to work through their own feelings, they experience better outcomes.
Encourage Learning Through Play
Undoubtedly one of the greatest gifts you can pass on to your children is a love of learning. The natural curiosity that children possess for the world around them can often be dampened down as they go into a formal learning environment at school, where the teaching may not be suited to their learning style. Support them to find their own passion by encouraging learning through play. Finding great learning resource toys and engaging with your child in using them is a great start. Encourage them to develop their own interests in a topic and find ways to bring in learning through that angle. You should also make a habit of physically active play on a daily basis, be it nursery playground equipment or taking them on a bug safari walk in the local park. Childhood in the modern day is extremely sedentary and although tablets and electronic games have their place, you’ll be doing your children a huge favour if you help them balance that habit with equal amounts of active time.
Put Great Routines In Place
Having a routine creates stability, which is what all children need in order to feel secure. If you haven’t been following any kind of routine so far, it’s easiest to start with bedtime. Start with a post-dinner wind down in the evening where lights are dimmed and you encourage a calmer activity, such as colouring. Follow this with a bath, pyjamas on, a cup of warm milk, teeth brushing, a story, and finally bedtime. When children know what to expect and that things happen in a certain order they are less anxious and generally their behaviour is better. As adults we also need these keystone habits, and if we develop them as children they tend to stick with us and benefit us throughout our adult lives.