Scientists have already confirmed that children’s development is heavily influenced by the way they spend their first years of life. Not only do they grow physically, but emotionally as well, and the more right attention we give them during that period, the better off they’ll be. Our job as parents and educators is to provide the best possible conditions for their development from day one. So, how do we do it at such an early age?
Children reach various developmental milestones in the first years of their life. Their first step, smile, word or some action, such as blowing kisses to others, are all very important, since they tell us whether the child is developing as expected. Similar milestones also exist when it comes to how they speak, behave, move or play. Once they become more aware of themselves, they start exploring the world around them, but their behaviour also changes, since they might become defiant at times. If we encourage them to try something they’ve never done before, they’ll realise that we are their support and will feel much more confident reaching the next milestone. Once they feel the taste of success, they’ll be even more motivated to try harder to complete a more complex task. Success breeds success and that rule can also be applied to very young children.
Remain positive and involved
Toddlers need a lot of attention and they are still not able to entertain themselves completely. That’s why we should use their innate curiosity and need to socialise to organise quality time. This can be achieved by reading to them regularly, to develop their range of vocabulary and spark their imagination, or playing games where they have to recognise different shapes or solve simple puzzles. Ideally, you could enrol them in a parent-accompanied playgroup where they’ll play with their peers and qualified experts and perhaps start learning a skill, such as a foreign language.
Keeping them safe
Child safety is always the top priority, but it’s probably the most prominent feature among toddlers. Once they start moving around more and at greater speed, they’ll be prone to more accidents and exposed to more potentially dangerous situations. Common sense implies we should never leave them unattended near water, no matter how shallow or small it may be. Unfortunately, drowning is the most common cause of accidental deaths among this age group. Also, you can childproof your home and install gates at stairs and keep the garage or basement locked at all times. Sockets are always tempting, so protect them from prying fingers of your young ones. The same goes for medicines, cleaning products and poisons that you keep at home. Make sure they are kept out of reach of children.
There are several things money can’t buy and health is definitely the most important of them all. If we don’t look after our children’s health, no one else will. That means we have to pay special attention to what they eat and drink, whether they are receiving proper medical care and if they are not engaged in activities that are bad for their health. So, give your child water and good old plain milk rather than soft drinks and make sure they eat enough fruit and vegetables. At first you might need to invest more effort in their diet by always having a selection of healthy food, so that they can choose, but insist that they eat properly and gradually introduce new food. Another problem that many parents are dealing with nowadays is that their children spend too much time in front of the TV, tablet or phone. Their screen time has to be limited or, even better, they should not have access to screen media until they are 2 or 3. Finally, in order to develop properly, your toddler needs to get enough sleep every day, so let them get what is necessary.
Raising a child is beautiful, but also quite complex and demanding. Still, if we do a good job bringing them up, that can easily become the thing we are the most proud of.