There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, but there are a few ways you can help your kids grow into capable, kind, independent people.
Here’s how to make sure that kids grow up alright, according to childhood development experts Dr. Tovah Klein and Angela Lanscom.
According to Dr. Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development and author of “How Toddlers Thrive,” there are some overtly negative things that you should never say to your kids, like warning them about getting fat or dismissing their emotions by calling their outbursts “silly.” There are also more subtle statements that are best avoided — for example, telling a child “you’re so smart” can actually make them less motivated to try and fail at something.
Playing outside with raw natural materials helps kids develop sensory organization, which comes with a host of physical and emotional benefits.
“Being able to pay attention in school is reliant on that, being able to use the eyes to function and read. Being able to control their emotions also relies on being able to organize the senses,” said Angela Lanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and author of “Balanced and Barefoot.”
One of the keys to instilling confidence in your children is allowing them to solve problems and figure things out on their own. When they discover that they can do something by themselves, they’ll feel empowered to tackle similar issues in the future.
“Confidence is this feeling of ‘I can do it,'” said Klein. “They need us to back off so that they can do it.”
It’s perfectly normal for toddlers to be selfish. As they get older, though, they’ll take note of the way their parents treat others and follow suit. If you want your child to be a kind and thoughtful person, you need to show them how it’s done.
“If you’re kind to the store clerk, if you’re kind to the people in the restaurant, service people, in New York the doorman, whoever the people are who help us, your child learns this is how you treat people,” said Klein.
Putting a plate of food in front of them and letting them eat what they want or allowing them to choose what shoes they want to wear shows children that their ideas matter. Klein encourages parents to let kids make small decisions to foster independence.
“Each time we give children a little bit of control, it goes a long way towards decision-making, and decision-making is part of independence,” she said.