Almost all parents have the similar goals for their children. They want to their child to be happy and prepared to make the world work for themselves. They want their children to be safe and to parents want to reduce the chances that their child to have friends and be liked. Sounds simple enough. Still when you break it down, it is a pretty complicated set of tasks.
It starts early. How do I help my infant get regulated so that I can provide for her needs? If she doesn’t sleep more than two hours at a time, how long can I go on taking care of her effectively? Some of us have it harder than others. Some infants arrive with a sensitive temperament. They need a lot more re-assurance and we can get overwhelmed with the task. Some infants are easily disturbed and others are less reactive. Understanding that children mature quickly helps. Knowing that soothing and comforting and providing stability will nurture most babies to that safe, secure, happy place you are aiming for helps.
The tasks are many. A child who does not learn to follow commands is at greater risk of getting hurt. A child who can communicate his needs and has learned how to eat effectively and knows how to get the toy that he wants without violence will be healthier, safer, and have fewer risks. How do very young children master all these tasks? What can parents expect from the child? If we set up a behavior plan that exceeds a child’s physical, cognitive, and/or emotional development then it will fail. If we react to children emotionally, we are much greater risk of teaching the child ineffective behaviors and even violent ones.
Everyone who is charged with coaching, teaching, and guiding a child toward a health, happy, effective life needs support. A lot of support. We need emotional support from friends, family, and peers who are facing the same amazing journey. We also need some informational support. We need to have a basic understanding of children’s abilities at different ages and stages of growth. All children grow. They are different over time and this means we need to be ready to change with them. For example, schools have learned that many kindergardeners are not yet ready to control their bladder function so that they can wait for classroom breaks. Knowing this, many early education classrooms designate bathroom space in or directly adjacent to the classroom. Anything else will likely disrupt the learning goals.
There are a lot of resources for parents. I think that the American Psychological Association has generated some great fact sheets to support parents. Follow this link to find these worksheets. Learn what your amazing child is ready to learn — AND WHAT HE OR SHE IS NOT READY FOR! You are the expert on your child and you will be the best person to recognize her progress through these changes. The link below will take you the fact sheets.