Parenting can be wonderful and rewarding, but it can also be difficult and unpleasant. Most parents experience moments (or months or years) of feeling overwhelmed. As a psychologist, parents approach me to know the best ways of handling their children. However, before using any parenting style it would be sensible to understand that every child is unique and they behave in their own special ways with the given environment.
As children develop from infants to teens to adults they go through a series of developmental stages that are important to all aspects of their personhood including physical, intellectual, emotional and social. Now that the new academic year is to begin very soon, parents must be gearing up more than the kids. The intention of this article is to help this journey make easy-going.
Let’s look at the developmental stages of children from 3-7 years old. This is the fastest growth period. During this period the primary feature involves the child regularly interacting with other children at school and in the neighborhood. Central to this stage is play, as it provides children with the opportunity to explore their interpersonal skills through initiating activities. Children begin to plan activities, make up games, and initiate activities with others.
Hence it is best to provide them with Play telephones, kitchen appliances and utensils, tool sets, medical kits etc. Also, they would enjoy vehicles, Dress-up clothes and, of course, baby dolls, as well as toy people and animals as kids would like to construct scenarios. Finger or hand puppets offer another way of acting out and mastering day-to-day experiences.
Children, at this stage, will be learning to read and write; to do sums, to do things on their own. The language and social skills can be boosted with letter-word- and number-recognition toys and games. Activity books can help reinforce math and language learning. Early board games like snake-ladder, carom-board would introduce the concept of taking turns and sharing with others. Art materials (clay, crayons, paints, collage materials) are another creative favorite with most children in this age group.
And of course, outdoor sports like running, jumping skipping would not only help them build the muscle control and strength but will also develop a sense of initiative, and feel secure in their ability to lead others and make decisions.
Parents play a very vital role. It would be best defined as a right combination of encouragement, support and guidance. Parents serve as primary teacher for the mastery of basic learning skills and encourage active discussion and experimentation of new concepts and skills. Parents need to understand that children ask questions out of their thirst for knowledge. These questions should not be turned down as embarrassing or nuisance. The realistic clarification would help children fulfil their curiosity in a constructive manner.
By understanding your child’s development, you will be able to provide them with opportunities as well as toys that can boost their development and prepare them for the next phase of their growth. At the same time, you as a parent would be able to set expectations and limits that are acceptable to your child.
To conclude, observing your children growing is an enriching experience. As the child is growing, a parent also gains many insights. This journey would be really elevating when a parent is consciously involved in the entire process.