For the next few days, New Year’s Resolutions will be a hot topic. People will talk about things they want to achieve in the year 2013. Social media sites will be full of promises about diet, exercise and daring to do things differently. We tend to look inward and determine what we want for ourselves. This year, I challenge you to have two lists of resolutions – the personal and the parental.
Resolve this year to give more conscience thought to your parenting. In this competitive, stressful, overscheduled and technologically based world, think about how you can help your young children to build a foundation of feeling capable, being emotionally strong and loving to explore their curiosity. Consider these New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Preschoolers:
- Encourage more socialization and less technology driven isolation: It is astounding to see parents of preschoolers, or children of any age, posting pictures in the social media of their children and friends sitting side by side each using their own tablet, laptop or video game and calling that a play date. Play time with friends should encourage conversation, creativity and cooperation. Children should be entering the world of their imagination and not the imagination of a software engineer. Dramatic play, alone and with others, is the most important part of your child’s day. Children who engage in play in worlds of their own making are testing rules & boundaries, gaining confidence in their ability to make decisions and learning about the world by role playing. Role playing is, in fact, the beginning of literacy. Children experiment with symbolism, exercise their verbal skills muscles and tell the most amazing stories. Unplug the video game. Turn off the laptop. Encourage socialization and brain exercise.
- Give some control to your children by encouraging them to make decisions: Young children have very little control over their days. They follow the pattern of the day as set forth by all of the adults in their lives. There is a schedule at home and a routine at school. Young children measure time by routine so it is important to have predictability. There are some things, however, that they can control. Young children can pick their own clothes or choose from a couple of snack choices. As you go through each day, be aware of the decisions that you are making that actually can be handed over to your children. They will learn that their opinions have value and they are capable decision makers.
- Encourage sensory experiences by having a messy zone in your home: When children dive into finger paints, shaving cream and play dough, they are doing more than just making a mess. They are developing pathways in the brain that help to process input from the world around them. The more children smell, feel, taste, see and hear, the more data they collect and the more perceptive they become.
- Become more aware of what activities are adult driven and, therefore, not really play: Children learn best through play, by being active learners. The moment that adults take over the activity, your children become passive participants. Young children may enjoy dance class, sports and taking music lessons and that’s wonderful. They should be encouraged to participate in activities that they enjoy. As parents, however, we need to recognize that all of these adult driven activities provide no opportunities for children to make their own decisions and , therefore, build their own knowledge. Be sure to balance your schedule with plenty of free play, both indoors and outside, during which the children determine the course of action.
- Listen more and talk less: This may be the most difficult parenting resolution. We have lived a while and have knowledge that we just want to impart. When we talk, we cannot hear. Children have feelings, opinions and their own viewpoint of the world. They do not think like we do nor do we think like them. It is important to really listen as our children speak and to watch when they are at play. Listening and watching gives us a window into how they see their world. It is when we understand their perceptions that we can better alleviate their fears, guide them and help them to be confident.
Parenting is the hardest job on Earth. Resolve in 2013 to take parenting off of auto-pilot and reflect upon the activities of each day. Think about the ways in which you provide not only the basics but also a foundation for all future interactions, learning and self-worth.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2013!
Read more articles, learn about early childhood workshops for parents and early childhood professionals at www.cindyterebush.blogspot.com
For information about The Early Learning Center of Temple Shalom or Temple Shalom Religious School, contact Cindy Terebush at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-566-2961.