Is your child 0-3-years-old?
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PEOPLE who work in childcare know the foundation years are from birth to 3 years old. During this stage, children learn more than at any other time of their lives. Through daycare providers or nursery schools, they hone the skills that prepare them for full-time school. If parents are alert and on point, they also encourage various activities to assist in their child’s development.

There is a lot of information available on child development nowadays. Therefore, there is no reason why parents should not be familiar with their child’s growing needs, should they care to research the same. It only requires a little dedication and the desire to give children the best foundation. The best start, cannot be achieved by a selfish or self-absorbed person but a person who recognises, even anticipates children’s needs from their viewpoint. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to acquire knowledge of what is needed for childcare apart from feeding babies and changing their ‘nappies’.

When children are young (aged 1-2), they understand more than they can express through words and therefore tend to cry when things are not to their liking or when upset (about or) by something. Rather than find out what is bothering the child and how to rectify the problem, a parent might force the child to stop crying with a couple of light slaps – missing the point that the child tried to communicate by a mile.

Children cry for a reason. It may not be a sensible reason from an adult’s standpoint, but it matters to the child and his/her limited knowledge of the world. Children need to be met halfway by understanding parents who can soothe their anxiety, pain or worry and talk to them considerately. Many parents do the opposite and take out ‘their’ frustration on a crying child, which is counterproductive as nothing meaningful is achieved.

Talking to children and getting to know them during the early years does not mean pandering to their every whim or fancy or molly cuddling them; giving a false concept of the world. They need to build resilience and other traits to survive, so parents should not soften them up. They should be observant and help them to understand the world around them. Such as cause and effect, e.g. If you do this, that is going to happen.

Children can learn about cause and effect through playing with toys. They push a button, and it makes a noise, or they pile their bricks too high, and they come tumbling down. Cause and effect is a precursor to teaching children about the consequences of their actions later on in life, but during the early years, it is a thinking skill that babies can develop as early as 8 months old.

Adults can help to develop a child’s listening skills by reading and talking to him/her. Talking should always involve eye contact, so the parent has the child’s attention and vice versa. Parents can speak in a fun way when playing with a child or talk calmly to comfort and appease a child. When parents talk firmly, they can alert a child of danger or explain an undesirable behaviour.

The various tones of voice should be all that is needed to guide a child when young. Slapping a child and calling them ‘hard-ears’ may be culturally acceptable by some, but it is not good practice. Parents have the choice to raise a child with patience and understanding regardless of their various backgrounds or by which methods they were raised.

Reading to children promotes good listening skills. Parents can start reading to children as soon as they are born if they choose. Some people even read (and play music for) babies in the womb. Parents can start reading books to children as young as 4 months old – they don’t have to read for long, a few minutes at a time will do, but should read consistently.

Language starts to develop in a child’s brain long before the child can speak. Reading aloud benefits advancement considerably. Parents can show pictures and encourage them to point and ask questions about stories as they grow. Interacting with children whilst reading promotes their thinking, language and social skills. It also encourages children to recognise words so learning to read is easier.

Reading is a good time for parents to snuggle up comfortably with their little ones, so the experience becomes an enjoyable treat from an early age, rather than a chore they are made to perform later on. The best setting to read in, is a quiet, comfortable area, devoid of television, mobile phones or other distractions. Every parent should seek to provide positive surroundings for their children to the best of their ability – in which they can grow and strive.

Parents may become wise after living a somewhat dysfunctional lifestyle and seek to provide a positive environment. At any child development stage, children will benefit from efforts made to assist them. But having measures in place during the early years provides a solid foundation on which confidence, perception, empathy and early learning in children can flourish.

A stable lifestyle is imperative when raising children. Children should not see their parents with multiple partners, in derogatory situations, or witness their parents experiencing mental issues. Even babies can pick up on dysfunctional vibes and feel anxious and unsafe around adults. Let us do our best to make the foundation years beneficial for children.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at childcaregy@gmail.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY

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