All parents want what is best for their children, but we often aren’t sure what we should do. We go by what our parents did, what books tell us, and often turn to friends and pediatricians to give us advice when we seem to be lost. Even after all this advice, there are still question marks hanging over our heads.
I am by no means an expert, but there are some things I have learned from my own experience, as well as from those I greatly respect, that I think are important for any child. I know there are times when I forget what it’s like to be a child, and my rules may be a little too rigid. Here are six things you should do for your child to help them as they grow.
Read To Them
It only takes ten minutes a day to read a book to your child. Even the busiest parent can squeeze this into their day. Reading teaches a child that books are important, and that reading can be an adventure. You can bet that a child who learns to love reading at an early age will do better in school. Let your child learn that reading is important and fun.
Play In The Mud
There’s no need to let them trample through a mud puddle when they are dressed for church, or on their way to get portraits done, but if you are out on a walk, let your child have a go. The most creative minds in the world can accomplish great things because they are totally able to lose themselves in their work. This can’t happen if they are worried about spilling something or getting their hands dirty. This will teach them to play, when appropriate, and to explore the world.
When you’ve told you child to stop doing something repeatedly, it’s hard to bite your tongue when they do it again. As long as they aren’t doing something purposely, you should be gentle with them. You can correct them again, but let your child know it’s OK to make mistakes. A lot of things they learn in life, they will learn by mistake. It’s an important part of the learning process and they should know it’s OK to make them as long as they learn from them.
Choose Their Own Interests
This can be a hard one for parents who have dreams for what they think their child can accomplish, but it’s an important thing you can do for your child. Let your child decide which sport they want to play, which instrument (if any) they want to learn, or what club they wish to join. You can encourage them in one direction or another, but let your child make up their own mind, and let your child know whatever they decide is OK with you.
When you allow them to choose their own activities, you are encouraging them to follow their own passions, and to be who they are no matter what everyone else thinks they should do. People tend to have an interest in the things they are talented in. You may discover a hidden talent your child possesses just by allowing your child to choose his or her own activities.
Quit Without Guilt
Even when children go after their own interests, not everything works out. They may find they don’t like what they are doing as well as they thought they would, or they just may not be very good at it. Instead of telling them that ‘quitters never win’ let your child know it’s OK to quit something that isn’t working out, or that they no longer enjoy.
Later in life they will be less likely to stay in a bad relationship or remain stuck in a dead-end job they hate. Teach them the fine balance between quitting something because they agreed too hastily, and quitting something that they have given a fair go.
Play Without Rules
Kids beginning school are required to know more and more in order to enter kindergarten. This puts more pressure on parents and shifts the focus to learning at an earlier age. It is great to spend time doing learning activities with them, but unstructured play is just as important.
Unstructured play allows your child to expand their imagination, and may teach them more than you realize. It also shows them that, as important as work and learning is, playing and relaxation is essential as well. Learning to enjoy free time is one of the best things you can do for your child.