Whilst we all learn new things throughout our lives, it’s generally accepted that our early years are the most important in terms of learning and development. It’s therefore critical that children have the opportunity to learn and fully develop during those all-important formative years.
Children are naturally inquisitive and have the greatest capacity to acquire and retain knowledge in their early years, so it’s a vital period in terms of shaping a person into being an intelligent, compassionate, erudite and altogether well-rounded human being.
The developmental phase
It’s typically between the ages of 2 and 7 that children develop and refine their cognitive, emotional, speech, and motor skills. During this time, it’s especially important that children are given every possible opportunity to develop in those aspects, whilst also ensuring that they’re having fun.
Parents and other primary carers can play a very influential role in a child’s development. Just spending time with a child or reading to them can be hugely beneficial.
Conversely, a parent’s physical or mental health, financial situation, or level of education can contribute adversely to a child’s development. Negative experiences can also affect a child’s brain development and lead to behavioural issues in the ensuing years.
Healthy body, healthy mind
Nutrition and physical activity contribute significantly to a child’s overall well-being and brain development. The habits a child picks up in terms of what they eat and how much they exercise often continue into adulthood, so by setting an example in those areas and steering them in the right direction, parents can help significantly reduce the risk of their child developing health problems later in life.
How a child responds to situations can be greatly influenced by how their parents behave in similar circumstances. As the old expression says, ‘monkey see, monkey do’, so parents and other family members and friends involved in raising your children need to behave in an acceptable manner and control their own behaviour when they are around your children, so that children do not pick up on bad behaviour and consider it acceptable because it is what they are accustomed to seeing. As well as setting an example by your own behaviour, also teach your children about what behaviour is acceptable so they can become an adult to be proud of.
Another thing to bear in mind is that every child is unique, responds to different things, has different interests, and so on, so they should be treated as an individual, have their feelings, wants and needs respected, and be encouraged to pursue their interests in order to build their confidence and instil a strong sense of worth and feeling of being loved and cared for.
Emotional development also involves teaching your children important life skills, such as conflict resolution, interacting with others, respecting other people’s differences, problem solving, how to take care of themselves, and so on.
Sharing experiences is also critical to a child’s development. Getting them involved even in the most simple things such as cooking, doing little jobs around the house, or playing together and doing other fun activities such as a family outing to the cinema or a concert, is a wonderful way of helping a child to develop skills and appreciate some of the joys of life.
Ultimately, what a parent wants for their child is for them to eventually be able to stand on their own two feet and be self-sufficient, so that when the time does eventually come when they are no longer around to look after them, they know that they will be okay. In a perfect world, that’s how things would eventuate, but of course, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, which is why we have Life Insurance, so that if we are no longer around for our children while they are still young and developing, at least we have the peace of mind of knowing that they’ll at least be taken care of financially in our absence, which is arguably as important as any life lessons we can teach them while we are around.