Nurturing a Child’s Prospects

Nurturing a Child’s Prospects

May 29, 2020

By Puvanesvari Ayavoo

Parenting and caregiving can be a stressful job that takes time and sacrifice. Nurturing does not come naturally to all adults but can be learned over a period of time. Children who are nurtured learn to treat themselves, others and their environment in a nurturing way.

Ms. Puvanes, teacher at Matrix International School, shares some thoughts on it.

Providing for children’s physical needs (food, shelter, clothing) is a fairly straightforward matter. Trying to provide for children’s emotional needs can be trickier. Although there are many parenting styles, most experts agree on some general guidelines for nurturing a child’s emotional health and laying the groundwork for emotionally healthy adulthood.

Control Our Children’s Educational Environment

From babies to toddlers to young children, we are all excellent mimes. We are intelligent enough to know what action warrants our attention. Children know when an event takes place simply because they have repeatedly been exposed to someone older who expresses themselves as such. This natural talent may be controlled and moulded so that children can think and question at an early age which in return may set them apart from the rest as the answers they find are an exploration in itself.

Capability to explore and be creative are becoming more and more important as information at hand now may be outpaced rapidly. Ms Puvanes has been in education since 1988, having taught at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. She was especially surprised though at a tertiary level, many students are not able to independently learn and their foundation for such capabilities are relatively weak.

This is the case as some students are accustomed to a system where memorising is a necessity and they’ve forcefully memorised for exams without fully understanding what they’ve learned. We have to actively provide a more holistic approach where students enhance their knowledge with hands-on experiments, doing research and presenting them with skills needed for them to advance further.

Vision and Aspiration – Getting it started early

The lack of a vision to aspire to be – a role model of sorts could help shape and guide them when they’re unsure. What we have come to acknowledge is that children will fixate on what people around them are consuming. This includes TV shows, games, books and other materials, but what leaves a more lasting impression on them are the actions of people around them. For example, when a father is honourable and respectable, and a mother is nurturing as well as resourceful, these things are imprinted on their minds and though their developing moral compasses can be at odds sometimes, they could develop similar traits later in life. Even superheroes have their own kryptonite which is why children should be exposed to both the good and bad so that they are able to determine without prejudice what is what.

Developing activities designed to foster children’s social development requires intentional involvement. Parents can help encourage socialising for children to interact with their peers. A simple trip to the park or playground at a time when these locations are likely to be busy creates an opportunity for children to interact with peers. Alternatively, parents can organise formal play-dates that allow specific children to play together.

Typically, the less parents try to direct children’s socialising the better. When parents remove themselves from dictating these social interactions, it allows children to learn how to communicate, to share, to negotiate, and to solve their own disagreements. Such an open approach does not work well for all children, especially shy ones who need a fair amount of encouragement before they start engaging. For these children, parents should arrange play-dates where fewer children are present (one or two maximum). Parents who have shy children may also need to assume an active role to get the play started which allows time for everyone to feel safe and comfortable. As children begin to have fun on their own, parents can gradually fade into the background.

Parents should also encourage family and sibling bonding. Siblings may be spaced far apart in age, or have very different interests and abilities; therefore, parents may need to be extra creative in order to come up with activities that everyone will enjoy. Siblings should be encouraged to resolve their own conflicts whenever possible, as this will tend to reduce sibling rivalry over time and build stronger sibling bonds. However, parents should not become too “hands-off” by ignoring interactions that are violent, intimidating, or cruel. In these cases, adults should intervene as soon as possible.

Young children need to be reminded, encouraged, and rewarded for practicing proper social manners. How far to take this social learning is up to individual parents. Common courtesies (including phrases like “Thank you” and “Excuse me”, and practices like sending a thank you card after receiving a gift) are universal and should be taught to all children.

One area of manners that can be especially difficult for toddlers (and even older children) to appreciate is sharing. Young children are not yet socially mature enough to appreciate that each other person is an individual with unique needs and feelings. Instead, young children tend to view others as either there to satisfy their own needs first. Sharing has to be taught until children are mature enough to understand why this behaviour is important.

Guiding Figures – Holding Their Hands

Besides parents, schools are specifically influential to our children. Children spend an ample amount of time with their peers and teachers; approximately eight of their waking hours. Their brains will respond to any stimuli and are enriched by what they face at school. Parents would no doubt want to give their children the best education possible but what’s best evolves all the time and depends on whom you ask.

Holistic teaching allows for the scaffolding of each child’s ZPD – Zone of Proximal Development which entails for what learners can and/or cannot do without aid. Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist, known for his work on psychological development in children, postulated that these guided social interactions allow for a child within a crucial growing period to partake in activities with help till they can do so themselves. You can think of them as training wheels on a bicycle for a child learning to ride.

It is better to instil autonomous learning in children as we encourage in the school as learning is always progressive. The children become confident in their abilities to troubleshoot and will eventually experience the world, but with critically sharp eyes and a mind that is independent.

10 Ways to Nurture Your Child

Some children seem to be born with more self-esteem than others, but there’s a lot you can do to promote your child’s emotional well-being. With a stronger sense of self can make your child more emotionally resilient upon facing challenges.

  1. Be aware of stages in child development so you don’t expect too much or too little from your child.
  2. Encourage your child to express his or her feelings; respect those feelings. Let your child know that everyone experiences pain, fear, anger, and anxiety. Try to learn the source of these feelings. Help your child express anger positively, without resorting to violence.
  3. Promote mutual respect and trust. Keep your voice level down — even when you don’t agree. Keep communication channels open.
  4. Listen to your child. Use words and examples your child can understand. Encourage questions. Provide comfort and assurance. Be honest. Focus on the positives. Express your willingness to talk about any subject.
  5. Look at your own problem-solving and coping skills. Are you setting a good example? Seek help if you are overwhelmed by your child’s feelings or behaviours, or if you are unable to control your own frustration or anger.
  6. Encourage your child’s talents and accept limitations. Set goals based on the child’s abilities and interests — not someone else’s expectations. Celebrate accomplishments. Don’t compare your child’s abilities to those of other children; appreciate the uniqueness of your child. Spend time regularly with your child.
  7. Foster your child’s independence and self-worth. Help your child deal with life’s ups and downs. Show confidence in your child’s ability to handle problems and tackle new experiences.
  8. Discipline constructively, fairly, and consistently. Use discipline as a form of teaching, not physical punishment. All children and families are different; learn what is effective for your child. Show approval for positive behaviours. Help your child learn from his or her mistakes.
  9. Love unconditionally. Teach the value of apologies, cooperation, patience, forgiveness, and consideration for others.
  10. Do not expect to be perfect; parenting is a difficult job.

Ms Puvanesvari Ayavoo graduated from Raja Melewar Teacher Training Institute and Specialist Teacher Training Institute. She has a Degree in English Language and Literature Studies from University Science of Malaysia and a Masters Degree in English Language Teaching from University of St. Mark and St. John, UK. She has 31 years of teaching in Malaysian Primary and Secondary Schools and Lecturer /Teacher Trainer at Kent and Gaya Teacher Training Institute.