The early years of a child’s life can play a crucial role in determining the quality of life that will exist in their future. If you are a new or expecting parent, it may seem overwhelming to consider the repercussions your parental actions may have on the remainder of your child’s life.
While you may only be responsible for a portion of your child’s future, preparing early and learning as much as you can about responsible parenting, will help give your child many advantages down the road.
Science continually impresses upon us the significance of development in your child’s early years. More than ever before, we are learning the role that early childhood development plays later on in life. This early childhood development is ultimately in the hands of the parents, which can feel like a daunting task.
The simplest bottom line to remember is that children register and pick up on more than we realize, so it is crucial to always be aware. Early parenting, or “parenting during the early years of your child’s life,” has the potential to affect your child’s future in nearly every way—including these major areas discussed below:
· Social skills and familial interaction: From the moment you bring your child home from the hospital, they begin to learn how they fit into your family unit. It is during these early years, and therefore during the early parenting stages, that your child learns crucial social skills. He or she discovers how best to interact with others, including family members.
Even when children are still young, they can be taught important principles like sharing with siblings/cousins/friends, respecting their parents, saying “please” and “thank you,” etc. Remember that you are their primary role model. Your young child will observe your tone, word choice, and overall mannerisms—so make sure your behavior is something you want mimicked!
· Emotions and anger management: While it may sound silly to think of teaching a toddler about anger management, you have the opportunity to instill good habits in your child’s mind during their formative years. Children can understand many elements behind the concept of right and wrong, and you can teach them during the stages of your early parenting how to act and cope when they are happy, sad, upset, or angry.
While you should never use extreme punishments when teaching your young child, enforce timeouts and reiterate that it is never acceptable to punch, bite, or kick another child. Conversely, encourage positive behaviors like hugging, including everyone, and using kind words.
· Religion, education, and other cultural values: As a parent, during the early years of your child’s life, you are their primary teacher and guide. The values, morals, and experiences your child is exposed to during this time will impact what becomes important to them later—so it is ultimately up to you to ensure your child is taught wisely!
The attitude you and your spouse have toward education, religion, and all other societal values sets the tone for the attitude your child will have toward education, religion, and all other societal values as they grow.
As your raise your children, it’s important to remember that there is not one “right” way to do so. As a parent, you will not be perfect—and you will find that parenting is almost never simple. You and your spouse will need to work together to establish a home where you feel comfortable raising your children, and laying the groundwork for their successful futures. This process may take a bit of trial and error.
Have patience with yourself, particularly during the early years of parenting—and remember that the most important thing is to always love your children.