Empowering your child: from vulnerable baby to capable person
Human babies are among the most vulnerable living beings. Left alone, they die in a matter of hours or days at most. Babies depend on their carers for their physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing and how they experience their early years can have a significant impact on how they live their whole life.
When our son Cameron was born, I felt vulnerable and overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising another human being. What did I know about his nurturing his physical, psychological and emotional development? As a parent, thinking about how I might ‘wreck’ him was really scary.
For the last five years I have been reading the latest research in child development and parenting, and it has helped me to feel more confident as a parent. My research has revealed that there are a number of fundamental basics that help parents grow their vulnerable babies into capable, caring and inspired adults.
While I’m certainly not claiming to have all of the answers, and even if I did, I could hardly fit them all in one blog post, nevertheless I’d like to share some of the key things I’ve learned about raising happy, healthy and well-adjusted children.
Start preparing before conception
The new science of epigenetics shows that your lifestyle choices prior to conceiving your child affect your child’s development. Your physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing can either have a positive or negative effect on your unborn child. A healthy lifestyle gives your baby the best start in life through the parent’s sperm and egg.
Mothers to be who enjoy a balanced whole food diet, engage in regular exercise and, for the most part are rested and calm during their pregnancy, create the best environment for their baby to form a healthy physical body including their brain development.
Love, love, love
Once your baby arrives, give her love, love and more love! Of course, this is a no brainer but as it is so important, it bears mention. Cuddle, kiss, hold, interact with, respond to and love your baby. The more that babies are held, talked to and experience a safe world the more secure they feel and the more they learn and develop.
Be happy, healthy and inspired
Parents are a child’s most influential role model. If you lead a happy, healthy and inspired life, you help your child to learn how to do just that. A happy and healthy parent is more likely to have the time, patience and care to raise an inspired child. A tired, depressed and unhealthy parent is neither a good role model for their child or will have what it take to support their development.
Focus on your relationship with your child
The bond between people is determined by the depth of love, care, respect and admiration they have for each other. Supporting the relationship between a parent and a child must be at the heart of all parenting decisions.
Parents can ask themselves ‘how will my actions impact my child and our relationship?’ For example: yelling at my child and calling him names is likely to have a negative impact on our relationship. On the other hand, care, consideration and respectful communication will grow our love and bond with each other.
Life skill approach to parenting
We want our children to be enabled in life. Taking a life skill approach to parenting means that parents can nurture their child’s development across many key areas including: the development of healthy self-esteem, resilience, financial literacy, ability to relate to others, a good understanding of nutrition and the importance of exercise, how to manage emotions and behaviours and the ability to set and achieve their goals… just to name a few. If parents take just 10-15 minutes a day to help their children develop life skills they will be giving their children a strong foundation for life success.
Remember, if you empower your children by teaching them how to think, how to create supportive working and family relationships and how to manage their emotions and behaviours rather than ‘telling’ them what to think and how to act and who to be, then you can feel confident that your children will be able to navigate life successfully even when you are not there to protect and to guide them.