It is all about the relationship. The most important factor for positive developmental outcomes for young children is the relationship with the significant caregivers in their lives. “Young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development.” (Center on Developing Child Harvard University).
It is the daily give and take ( serve and return), that gives us the rich information we need to build these solid relationships with our children. Through these very personal interactions, we learn about our child’s temperament, her interests, and her challenges. By accepting the differences and following our child’s lead we are respecting that they are an individual. Our challenge is to consciously make time for these very crucial interactions within our busy day.
Perhaps it is easiest to foster the early relationships with our babies, as that back and forth is basic and natural. The baby cries and looks to us for food and we provide it. He reaches his hand out to touch our face and we touch his. When our babies grow to toddlerhood it may be less smooth and therefore more difficult to accomplish. But if we use what we know from when they were babies, we can get back some of that synchronicity and continue on that road to trust, which is the centerpiece to every positive relationship.
How does your child experience the world? How do you respond to the same experiences? If there is a great deal of difference you may need to make a few adjustments. Temperament is not something you choose but rather something you are born with. Respecting your child’s inborn characteristics allows you to introduce new concepts or experiences in a way that your child can accept. If he is cautious with all new experiences, then offering time to observe may help. When you show your acceptance of his need, you build upon your relationship, which in turn gives him the ability to grow. Next time he may need less time and be less cautious, as he is more comfortable knowing that you understand who he is and what he needs.
Create time each day to play with your child. Games that incorporate serve and return( action and reaction) are great ones to try:
- Peek- a Boo
- Rolling balls ( or trucks) back and forth
- Row/ row boat
- Ready, set go! Games
- Look for activities that your child initiates, like imaginative games and then follow their lead.
Finally, all relationships have a reciprocal quality, which builds over time, and when positive allows our children to feel safe, secure and ready to learn. Making time for these kinds of activities is more important than learning colors, numbers or shapes. Self -confidence and success are products of positive relationships with caring adults. It is up to us as parents to make sure these relationships happen.