Ohio university has carried out a research that tells us that what we have always feared would come true, usually comes true.- women have a tendency (more than men), to parent their children in the same way their mothers did. Our reactions to our children’s behaviour, or answers to their questions, the assumptions we make about children, even our facial expressions and tone of voice.
What can become a concern, in my observations, is when parents perpetuate certain negative interaction with their children, on the basis of their perceived benefits based on their own childhood experiences. ie. ‘I spent a lot of my childhood with just a few basic rules and was allowed a great deal of freedom. This is what made the creative personality I am today,’ or ‘I had homework and extra classes everyday. It got me into a top university and a great paying job. I know it’s hard but it’s for her best.’
I am generalising of course. Nonetheless, despite the fact that we are all quite rational adults with full knowledge that there is a good chance our children are made up of rather different things than we are and will likely respond to the same input or stimuli in a vastly different way than we did, it seems the best of us simply cannot get used to that.
So how DOES one get on with one’s child? What if we simply have incompatible personalities?! First of all, we must educate ourselves for our roles. We cannot simply be as our parents were for we are not them and our children are not us. It is useful to become familiar with the needs of children of different ages, to cultivate patience and be ready to accept that our child to come will not become an adult of our will and moulding. We must rethink our responsibility and accept that our role is to serve our child remembering that that she will one day be a part of society.
The time to prepare oneself is during pregnancy and throughout your child’s growing up. Attending a class is very useful and so are a few good books. When looking for these, I recommend you consider the following age groups:
Many books about babies relate themselves to food, hygiene, vaccinations, diseases and sleep. You want to find a book that has sufficient information but also with a consistent message relating to the emotional experience of these developments. A book that discusses an approach, which should be similar in nature regardless of whether it is about introducing your baby to solid foods, to longer sleeps, to a new room etc. The ‘method’ should be consistent in all these and WE must be consistent in all these because it establishes the kind of interaction we will have with our child. Your child begins to expect certain behaviours from you through these early interaction.
This is the time when your child suddenly acquires a great deal of skills and the freedom that comes with it. Being able to eat most things, being able to walk and run, and to express themselves in words. This is a terribly important time when parents should put great effort in establishing a freedom-discipline margin that they are comfortable with. Being able to follow and respect your child’s new found skills and freedom without being mistakenly led into believing that they understand or are able to control themselves any more than they really do, AND without underestimating him either! What a task! The success of this is heavily reliant on the relationship your built with your child in the first year and any good book is going to tell you that. Any good book is also going to say, ‘It’s not too late to start!’ Just a note: Making friends with other 1-3 year old is not the main aim of this age group…
Many parents I have met with children this age become suddenly aware of having to ensure that their child is ‘school-ready’. A few are also of the opinion that this means you need to know all your ABCs and numbers and writing them. This is indeed an opportune time for preparation. See this old post for what I mean.
Montessori often describes this period as calm. – a time when the child is usually very fit and robust and acquires a great deal of knowledge and skills, and can be a real joy to be around. It is also a time when friends and society become terribly important. And I beg you to find a good read about that especially before they turn 10…A good book will tell you about how your child develops many social skills during this time and how it is the perfect time for having many thoughtful discussions about slightly more adult topics such as religion, science and history.
There are so many books about adolescence. In my experience, one (of many) difficulties families have with their adolescent children is recognising the needs of an adult-to-be. We must accept that development is non-linear. The teenager is hardly a more experienced or skilled version of your primary school child. If anything, she is more like your 3-6 year old in a very large body and has many more words. And I don’t say that to demean adolescents but to demonstrate that their needs are so different from our expectations of somebody who is supposed to be older and wiser. In fact, every good educator knows and takes into consideration that their whole brain works differently A good book will write about the importance of your emotional health and how to help your child find models outside of her immediate family.
Alas I have yet to write my Maths post. It has been a marvellous year for me and I can’t wait to tell you more during Summer.