Child Development and Milestones
A child’s development is a process that includes physical, social, and cognitive changes. These changes are influenced by several factors, including parents.
As a parent, it is important to encourage healthy habits and model the behavior you want your child to adopt. Also, set realistic expectations and be patient.
1. Encourage Healthy Habits
Developing healthy habits in children is a great way to help them grow up and stay healthy throughout their lives. These habits can include eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying active.
You can encourage these behaviors in your child by modeling them yourself. Children learn by watching and copying others, so it’s important to model the behavior you want in them.
Try to be kind, honest, and caring with your child. Show them compassion and help them understand how their behavior affects others.
Be sure to make time to play with your kids and spend quality family time together. This will allow you to bond with them and build lasting relationships.
It’s also a good idea to involve your children in planning and preparing meals. This will make them feel like they have a say in what goes into their diets.
Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is critical to healthy eating. This will keep your child energized and alert, avoiding fatigue, mood swings, digestive issues, and weight gain.
Avoiding certain foods and drinks, such as sweetened beverages and processed meats, can also help your child lead a healthier life. You can also work with your child’s teacher, daycare providers, and babysitters to ensure they are providing healthy options for your child.
2. Model the Behavior You Want
Kids learn everything they see, so modeling the behavior you want them to have is one of the most important ways to teach them. For example, if you want your children to be polite and respectful, model that behavior for them by using kind language and waiting for your turn in line.
Likewise, if you want your children to respect the property of others, you should demonstrate this in your daily life by taking care of items you own. For example, you might let someone go first in the grocery line when they have fewer things, or you might donate items to charity rather than buy new ones.
Even though it’s hard to keep yourself from slipping up sometimes, make your desired behaviors an important part of your daily life. Be honest with your kids about where you slipped up and how you hope to be different next time.
When they watch you, your kids pick up on your emotions, your tone of voice, and the way you respond to situations. For example, if you’re upset about an argument with your spouse or another adult, use that moment to model how to calmly discuss your feelings without losing your temper.
You might also unknowingly be modeling bad behavior for your kids if you smoke cigarettes and tell them that it’s not healthy or if you argue with the receptionist at the dentist’s office when she calls to book an appointment. These behaviors are not only unhealthy, but they’re also not the behaviors you wanted your kids to learn.
3. Be Patient
Whether it’s a 2-year-old who takes forever to put on their shoes or a work computer that’s been on a software update for the past hour, life’s little and large annoyances can make us want to blow our top. Thankfully, it’s not impossible to be patient in these situations.
To avoid losing your patience, take a moment to reflect on what’s causing you to lose it. This can help you to avoid those situations in the future and will also make it easier to shift your emotional state.
Patience is a skill that must be developed over time and practiced. This is why it’s important to teach children patience at a young age.
As they grow older, you can start to require longer periods of patience from your kids, like waiting for an entire sip of milk before they get it in their sippy cup. This will help them develop a sense of self-control that they can use in the real world.
It is important to set realistic expectations for your child’s development, so you can avoid setting them up for failure. It is also important to understand that every child is unique and will develop at their own pace.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
As parents, we are often tempted to set unrealistic expectations for our children. However, it is important to remember that every child develops at a different rate and their skills, strengths, and abilities are unique.
For example, a 3-year-old chats to his mother on the way home from preschool, expressing his interest in the songs and snacks and his distaste for how the sand feels on his hands. It is normal for a child to express their feelings in this way and it is essential that we listen to what they are telling us so that we can respond accordingly.
This may seem like a simple task but we all know that it can be incredibly frustrating when our kids are trying to communicate with us and we don’t understand what they mean. Having realistic expectations of what is possible for your children will help to make this easier for them and you.
For example, if an expectation is that your child completes their homework every night, but they are struggling to do this due to difficulties with literacy or numeracy, you could set up modified homework assignments so that they are able to meet this goal. This will give your child the opportunity to practice their skills and build their confidence. You can also create a structured homework routine that will allow your child to have the time they need each night to complete their work without stress.
5. Be Responsive to Communication Attempts
When children make communication attempts, they are trying to communicate something about their thoughts and feelings. When you respond to their efforts, they feel more understood and less frustrated.
One way to be proactive is to get in the habit of listening with your whole body. This includes making eye contact on their level or kneeling down if necessary to listen and show you are interested in what they have to say.
You can also ask open-ended questions like “What do you think about that?” or “Why does that make you feel that way?” These can help your child express their thoughts and feelings without being prompted or prying for information.
This can lead to more conversation and a greater chance of a positive outcome.
Another way to be responsive is by noticing when your child is showing emotion in their words or body language. Pick up on it and try to understand it by saying something to your child to help them understand their feelings better, or simply repeating what they have said so they know you are taking them seriously.
Responsiveness is a critical skill for supporting social interactions between children with autism and their caregivers. Despite the importance of parent responsiveness, little research has explored the association between parental responsivity and child initiations of joint engagement.
6. Create Routines
Having routines in place provides consistency, comfort, and security. This can help to reduce anxiety and stress, which helps children grow.
Routines also teach time management and give children a sense of control over their own lives. A routine can be as simple as brushing teeth each morning or completing homework before dinner.
To start, you’ll need to identify what tasks are most important in your family’s daily schedule. Decide what order you want them to occur, and create a routine for each day.
You might also need to think about ways to remind your child to follow the routine. A radio alarm clock or a simple chart with pictures can be very helpful, as they can easily be placed in places where your child can see them.
It’s important to enforce routines and rules consistently, regardless of the age of your child or whether they are being cared for by grandparents or babysitters. Reward positive routines and use consequences for negative ones.
It’s also important to let your child know that these routines and rules are there for their benefit, not to make life harder. If your child doesn’t like the way they are being enforced, talk to them about it and find ways to change it. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your child to decide what works best for your family.