CHILDREN are a work in progress; indeed, we all are, even those adults who think they know it all or have reached where they are going. Life-long- learning exists; we can learn something new every day, regardless of age. Learning new things can be a relished luxury when we remain young at heart and open-minded.
As parents, we like to feel we are in tune with our children. We know all about them and what is going on in their lives. But the rise in the cost of living globally, on the heels of a still present pandemic means that many parents are playing catch up. They are coping with the new normal and getting by each day to the best of their ability.
With so much going on, it is easy to forget what our children may be experiencing at their stage of childhood (development). It may even appear that children have it easy. They do not have to worry about paying bills, making ends meet, or maintaining a home. All children have to do is behave; do as they are told, and help out here and there.
Regardless of the strain adults are under, we must not forget to spend quality time with our children. Even the smallest child needs attention, affection and encouragement from parents and caregivers. Babies need adults to speak to them, read to them, and play with them, stimulating their minds and building their vocabulary and communication skills for the future. Even though they cannot speak, babies thrive when they are loved and cherished, and their environment is conducive to their growth and development.
Positive input from parents, caregivers, siblings and extended family members during their early years (0 -5) will decrease the likelihood of babies developing physical or mental issues later on in childhood.
For instance, if a child lacks parental attention and sees strangers constantly passing through his home, he may feel insecure. The comfort and safety elements needed for his stability and contentment are not in place.
Although he will grow, strive and survive, those fundamental elements are still missing. Consequently, he may develop attention-seeking issues later in childhood, e.g. always trying to be the centre of attention, acting loud, and constantly getting into trouble. Or he might find it hard to maintain friendships with his peers; lacking the ability to bond naturally and connect sincerely due to poor self-image.
Adults can directly or indirectly, cause children to develop a range of attitudes, behaviours and emotional issues, due to inattentiveness to children’s needs or other shortcomings. It is a fact that some people take their frustration out on babies. They shout at them, causing distress, slap them instead of speaking to them and treat them like a ‘problem’. When parents realise that every day is a learning day for babies, they can set aside time to nurture their offspring correctly.
Babies need to feel cherished, loved and appreciated. They need consistency and a stable environment where they are or at least feel like ‘priority’. Children raised in a child-friendly, secure home are more balanced in learning and interactions with others and peers.
Singing songs to baby, counting with baby, talking nicely to baby and giving hugs is the way to go. Outside pressures should never prevent nurturing moments with babies – every positive input makes an impression on the future.
Children need love, guidance, protection and attention from adults at all stages of their development. Even the competent children who adults depend on like their ‘right-hand man’ need time to off-load occasionally and experience more of their childhood.
During the school holidays, arrangements are made for children to be looked after by neighbours, relatives, grandparents and friends. Some children attend summer camp, while others (who shouldn’t be) are left alone at home with strict instructions and hopefully a neighbour’s watchful eye.
Whatever the circumstances, parents must remember to make time to maintain a caring relationship with their children. Adults might think, ‘it’s not that I don’t care about my kids or how they spend their day. It’s just that when I reach home, I’m so tired, I need to sit down. My feet ache, and I still have things to do’.
It is ‘all go’, and parents are consistently on the move, but children need their consideration, affection, and direction. Spending ten to fifteen minutes at a time talking and listening to children is all it takes to keep the link and stay connected to their lives and world. Their experiences, concerns, apprehensions and opinions are worth sharing and hearing.
Children hardly recognise the valuable input from adults and loved ones during childhood – they seem preoccupied with video games, online activity and other modern-day pastimes. When they are grown and reflect on the positive elements of their youth (as we all do), will they identify the significance of parental and adult involvement in their development– or the lack of, in some cases?
If weekdays are busy with little time to spare, parents can find some quality time at weekends, reflecting on the week in more detail and reviewing areas that need to be addressed or discussed. Parents need to stay on top of important issues and not let them slide or get swept underneath the carpet.
There is one definitive way that adults and parents can assist, encourage and guide children of all ages; and that is by staying in tune with them through communication, dedication and love. Only adults can provide the comfort and security children need in their lives – they must not let them down.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY