Q. “I’ve done everything for my four year old child throughout his upbringing, such as putting his coat and shoes on for him and tidying up his toys. I have never given him opportunities to learn things for himself. I am now starting to see how this is doing more harm than good and holding my child’s development back in more ways than one. Is it too late to change this?”

 

It is never too late to make changes towards your approach as a parent. As teachers and parents we are always looking to better ourselves and improve our knowledge on how to help children develop to the best of their abilities. Our main goal is to provide children with a rich and loving environment in which they can flourish.

 

The first thing I would stress if you are going to make any substantial changes in your approach towards your child’s behaviour or day to day routines, would  be to focus on the importance of talking to your child about it first. Obviously this is only relevant if your child is old enough to have a conversation. At four years old your child is certainly at an age that will allow you to have this kind of discussion. It is important and respectful to discuss, in advance, when you plan to change your behaviour and allow your child to experience the natural consequences of their choices. Within my classroom there is a huge emphasis on mutual respect between the children and teacher, which we have worked hard to build up over time. The children in my class each play an important role within the environment in many ways. They are made to feel like valued members of the class, whose contributions, opinions and ideas really matter.

 

Parents of the children in my class are shocked when they see how capable their children are. Many parents and teachers don’t realise how damaging it is when they do too much for children. Doing everything for a child robs them of opportunities to practise and refine skills that would make them more independent and confident in their abilities. By allowing children freedom and time to practise skills on their own without jumping in and doing it for them, we are providing them with valuable opportunities to learn self-control and regulation. Being too permissive is not being kind to yourself or the child. It is not respectful to pamper children, but it is respectful to have faith in your child’s capabilities and to understand their feelings. This approach also helps children to develop skills that enable them to do things for themselves.

 

When children have self-belief in their own potential it nurtures their self-esteem, and a feeling of true happiness through the liberation their independence provides.

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