CHILDHOOD is a time for fun and exploration, discovery and joy. It is a time when children ought to be free of life’s stresses and all types of harm and bask in their families’ protection and attention.
Parents can help children feel confident, loved and cherished by creating memorable childhood moments. When youngsters look back on their childhood, they will realise their loved ones were there for them with positive encouragement and support, helping them to reach their goals.
Adults always look back on their childhood. They remember the good times and the bad. It is, therefore, essential to put less emphasis on negative childhood behaviour.
Grown-ups don’t want to remember a childhood where adults were constantly ranting and raving at them, calling them names, getting vexed at the drop of a hat, maybe beating them and fretting over things they have done.
Sometimes grown-ups forget that they were once children and children are a work in progress; they will make mistakes and do things that annoy adults and belie their trust. Monitoring and reprimanding must be in place to correct improper behaviour, but making a song and dance over every incident demoralises the child and affects his/her self-esteem.
When parents notice, highlight and praise the strides that children make, regardless of how small, they boost their child’s confidence. Children love getting things right and receiving approval from adults they trust and respect.
The feeling of acceptance and admiration from adults encourages the child to learn more and do better. These childhood memories help build resourceful, resilient, and reliable individuals. They grow confident in their ability and understand how to stretch themselves to attain goals as the need arises.
Of course, children are unaware that they are living their childhood memories, they are too involved with day-to-day activities, and the next thing to do that brings pleasure, joy or excitement. Parents must keep them centred — teaching humility, forgiveness, kindness, grace, compassion, patience and fairness. The family lifestyle should include quality time spent eating together, talking, relaxing and interacting.
As simple as these relations may seem, they will secure an all-important connection between adults and children – while enhancing and creating relevant childhood memories.
Discussions between parents and children should be age-appropriate and tailored with words to suit the occasion. Depending on the gravity and content, some conversations can stick in a child’s memory even through adulthood. When relaying painful or shocking information, grown-ups should choose words wisely. Adults should not subject children to unpleasant, vulgar words spoken out of frustration or painful emotions.
Choose the right time and place to talk to children and allow them to contribute to conversations. Listen to what children say, show them that their thoughts and opinions are meaningful. If parents react to children’s comments or questions with shock or disgust, children will refrain from being honest and speaking their minds.
They might become withdrawn and only say what they know their parents want to hear — unable to be themselves or interact openly with the people who matter most.
Many adults recognise that they suppressed their thoughts and opinions as children, either through unspoken rules or fear.
Witnessing violence between adults is very disturbing for children. When exposed to continual family conflict, children may not recall their childhood memories clearly or accurately. The trauma of conflict (adversely) affects how they process childhood information. Acts of conflict can remain with children into adulthood, shaping their thoughts and grown-up relationships.
Children are aware that people occasionally argue and disagree, but healthy relationships can withstand a quarrel. The adult mindset should be to shake off the problem or dispute, staying close, loving and dedicated to the family core. Disagreements should not affect the foundation of family love.
Whether they realise it or not, children follow their parent’s examples. How parents deal with and manage contention, anger, or disappointment is significant to child development. To build resilience and endurance in children, adults should model the same – passing on valuable traits and wholesome habits during childhood.
Adults should be happy to share their childhood memories with their offspring – once their stories are suitable; and especially if they teach a moral lesson. Children love hearing stories about ‘scrapes’ their parents got into as children and how ‘young mummy or daddy’ gained experience through an unfavourable or unfortunate incident, or got their comeuppance. Knowing their parents were once inquisitive, foolhardy children, navigating their own childhood paths can put life’s cycle in perspective.
Adults can create a most valuable childhood memory by giving their children undivided attention. A child will never forget being the focus of devoted, sincere adult attention. Reading to a child each night when they are young or listening to them read when they are older builds a strong, comforting bond between child and adult.
Making or building things together in the kitchen or yard – and spending quality time in each other’s company, laughing, talking, or playing games are simple ways to sustain good relationships with children and create happy childhoods.
Children’s physical and mental experiences during childhood remain lodged in their memories and organs. Some memories can trigger fear, anxiety, uncertainty or despair as they grow and develop. On the contrary, others can bring joy, hopefulness, courage, or empowerment.
The best memories are the most unexpected. Pleasant surprises bring excitement and delight, such as receiving an unaffordable item of clothing or a longed-for pet.
Raising children in an organised, encouraging environment where they enjoy guidance, a sense of responsibility, and freedom (within reason) contributes to a memorable childhood.
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