Five golden years of parenting

Five golden years of parenting – Dr Shayama Chona

Dr Shayama Chona
I Well begun is half done, so goes the saying. For parents, the initial five years should be treated as the Golden Years. Strike a relationship with the child with empathy, trust and love with both parents working, nuclear families, indifferent neighbours, unreliable domestic help, parents are under great stress. The years before six are the most important in establishing attitudes, habits and pattern which will last throughout life. The relationship established with your child in his pre-school years will determine your relationship with her for the rest of her life. For example, to prevent a teenager from becoming a defiant juvenile delinquent, take the time to establish a solid relationship of affection, and mutual respect when she is small.

Raising a child is a human relationship, and human relationships cannot be reduced to a set of rules. So be rational. Do not be dogmatic about your approach. You and your child are unique. You and she have a special relationship which is different from any other two people on the planet. Don’t make the mistake of trying to fit this relationship into any generalization. | should be treated as the Golden Years

You can learn many scientific facts about children, but if you don’t have the feel of childhood you will not guide your child wisely. You will know the word ‘parenting’ but will lack the tune. To acquire the feel of childhood, re-establish contact with the child within yourself.

Each of your children is a unique combination of genes which has never existed before on this earth and never will again. She is also growing up in a unique psychological environment because of her position in your family. This combination of unique genes plus unique environment means that, in the strictest sense of the word, each child in your family is as unique as their fingerprints. The most important thing you can do for a child is to stand back and allow her to actualize the unique and potential self which is unfolding within her.

Decide on limits and reasonable rules for the control of your child’s actions. Then enforce these limits and rules consistently. There is no one magic set of rules which is right for every family or for all children. It depends on which rules you feel are important, and which rules you feel comfortable in enforcing.

Although as a parent, you assume responsibility for teaching your child to control her actions, it is equally important to allow her the freedom to express her feelings. Giving your child this right, will in no way lessen her respect for you. On the contrary, it will increase it. For, she will recognize that you feel secure enough in your position as a parent to allow her the democratic right to express her feelings as a junior member of the family. Allowing your child to express her feelings gives her the same type of democratic rights in your family that you have as a free citizen of your country.

In guiding your child through self-regulation, reinforce her positive moves toward worthwhile goals. Ignore actions which are not in the direction of worthwhile goals. Behaviour which is reinforced tends to be repeated. Reinforce your child when she acts independent, self-assertive, creative and loving. Do not reinforce her when she acts timid, whirring, uncooperative, violent, or destructive. You then become a powerful influence in helping your child to become a mature and self-regulating person.

School begins at home. The curriculum of your home is as important as the curriculum of the schools your child will attend. She needs a wisely chosen curriculum of toys, books and records, for these are the textbooks of her school at home.

Your child needs stimulation for her intellectual development. The intellectual stimulation you give her, particularly in the first five years of life, is of crucial importance for the optimal development of her intelligence. Stimulating her language development, teaching her to become interested in word and to love books, teaching her to print, playing games which teach her to think logically and grow in her understanding of mathematics, all of these are part of rich intellectual heritage you can give to your child by the time she is six years old.

The intellectual stimulation you give her, particularly in the first five years of life, is of crucial importance for the optimal development of her intelligence

Parents have rights too. Raising a child is no easy taste. It demands more maturity than parents have at times. All of us from time to time fall short of ideals we set for ourselves. If we give our children the right to be imperfect children, we should also give ourselves the right to be imperfect parents. If we allow our children the right to express their feelings, we should certainly keep that same right for ourselves.

A parent who feels she is sacrificing herself for her child is not doing that child any favour. So in order for us to be good parents, we must first of all aim at being self-actualizing genuine human beings ourselves.

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