The Frog Blog

Thoughts from the Leapfrog Learning Center in Shrewsbury

Archive for November, 2008

All parents want quality child care for their children. But what are their children’s priorities?

Every child enters the world with the same needs. They are all pre-programmed by human nature to be on the same quest. To be driven by the same imperatives. They are all on a mission to find out who they are, how the world works, and how they fit into it.

Partly this mission is driven by a need to feel secure. You can’t feel secure until you feel you understand what is going on around you and feel you have some control (or at least influence). This understanding and influence are essential to the survival of the species. One a child starts, he is a “tabula rasa.” He is an open book in which very little is written. The story begins when he is born. His understanding of the world begins with his first cries and is determined by what happens next. “Who” will your child grow into? What kind of personality will he have? His quest for identity (evolution of personality) is a strange process because it is determined by how people react to him. Children define themselves by the reflections they see from their peers and role models. In the beginning, they don’t know who they are. They experiment with different behavior and check how people react (Do they seem to like you? Do they laugh at your jokes? Do they comply when you are assertive? Are they emotionally responsive? Etc.). In effect, children “try on” different personas and see what feels comfortable. Mom and dad start the process when they start taking care of their new arrival. This is why parents are always every child’s most important teachers. Other people may teach your child how to read but you teach your child who he is. And the characteristics that he develops (his personality) that will ultimately determine if he going to have a happy life. Parenting is the biggest responsibility you will ever have.

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The most important single thing parents can do for their children is to make them feel loved. You should tell them that you love them often and hug them every time you think of it. They may squirm and pull away- but deep down inside, they need this reinforcement. It should always be the last thing you tell them when you put them down to go to sleep and, if you ever go into their bedroom at night to check on them (even though you know they are sleeping), you should whisper it to them again.  Young children can never hear this message too often.

The sense of security that comes from feeling loved and valued is the foundation for building the self-confidence and the positive self-image that is essential for successful socialization. Words are important but they are meaningless if they are not reinforced by actions. The best way to demonstrate that you love your children is to give them your time. Play with them. Find out what they want to do, then help them be good at it. Show them the things that you have fun with. Introduce them to the world. It doesn’t really matter what you do together as long you are interactive and your child knows you enjoy being with him. Being ignored can sometimes be more painful than physical abuse.

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