Do you want to raise healthy, well-adjusted adults? The beauty of having 3 twenty-somethings is that I can see the fruits of my labor. Through reading, trial and error and my basic belief systems, I raised my children on the following 10 premises:
- Read about each phase of childhood BEFORE you get to it. You won’t be surprised when you get a call from the preschool teacher that your two-year old is biting. You’ll understand that it is a natural phase that 2’s go through. You won’t think your child is bad or the next jack-the-ripper. You’ll understand that it is natural and be prepared to deal with it effectively.
- Avoid the “terrible two’s.” Simply avoid saying “no” to them. Children parrot what they hear. The two’s are not “bad.” They are asserting their independence for the first time. Try redirecting their behavior using a toy, a book. Say, “Look what I have!” Say, “Uh-uh.” Say, “Let’s go over here!”
- Don’t force the food. This is one of my pet peeves. Children have likes and dislikes just as adults do. Let them have their preferences. There is enough variety in the world of food that everyone can be happy. Let them decide how much food goes on their plate and when they are full – even if it means they didn’t finish their entire plate. They will learn to listen to their bodies, eat when they are hungry, stop when they are full.
- Let children feel their feelings. Feelings are scary – for them and for us. When my son was angry it started at his toes. It erupted with a force that frightened me just to watch. I let him have his feelings. I gave him acceptable ways to vent – run around the block, punch a pillow, write it down.
Growing up, my brother felt his feelings very strongly. My dad encouraged him to play the guitar. That guitar was a wonderful outlet for feelings that were too strong for a young boy to deal with.
Acknowledge their feelings with, “You sound sad.” “That must have hurt.”
Sometimes we need to cry. Sometimes we need a hug. Sometimes we just need to feel.
- Treat each child as an individual. It’s easy to sign all 3 children up for soccer. But this puts them in competition with each other. It may suit one child and not another. Both of my girls were in dance at one time. Both did gymnastics. Given a choice, my older daughter chose dance and the younger one gymnastics. They both loved attention, but now they could each get it in their own field.
Children have different learning styles. I home schooled one of my children; one went to private school and the third to public school. Each child needed something different. It was my job to listen to their needs and find a way to meet them. (school, learning styles)
Part II coming next week
By Angela DiCicco