I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t strive to do her best for her child. It’s the execution of that goal is perplexing, grueling, or just plain overwhelming. I’m often asked what should be encouraged or modeled or achieved in young children and I am quite certain parents wonder about that more often than they ask. As a parent, I often wonder about what my kids need most – usually late at night when that wondering causes me to stay up too late reading and worrying or contacting my husband many time zones away. What they need seems to grow and change as quickly as they do and forces parents to stay one step ahead when possible. All while balancing the myriad of other responsibilities and passions in our lives. Whew, no wonder we finding parenting a challenge! As with all challenges, when we tackle them with thought, our best efforts and a sense of humor, the payoff may exceed the effort expended.
When I sat down to really consider what young children need to have modeled, taught and fostered, I ended up with a laundry list of traits. There’s so much our kids need to have under their belts if they are to live a life rich in positive relationships, service to others, learning, curiosity and wonder. Throw into that mix the challenges of work and home life, social interactions, economic conditions, health and well-being of the entire family, and plethora of suggestions on the “right” way to parent and it becomes a daunting task. For decades, parents have done a fairly decent (if not excellent) job raising kids. Now in this era of information-at-our-finger tips, educational/sports/extracurricular competition, and increasing wish for immediate gratification, parents are confounded and conflicted. Life also offers so many challenges, risks and opportunities, that our parenting tactics and strategies have to adapt in some ways, yet in other ways, a simpler approach can give kids with a solid foundation with which to face modern challenges. Knowing that each child has different needs which reflect where s/he is at any given moment, I worked to narrow that list to the essential traits that young children need exposure, practice and hopefully, some mastery of in the first several years of life.
To whittle down my list, I had to consider parenting as a “mash-up” of:
- the major domains of development (social emotional, cognitive, physical and language) adapted from the Gesell Institute and Chip Wood’s Yardsticks
- current research on literacy, math, early childhood education and brain development from organizations such as the International Reading Association, NCTM, NAEYC and the Gurian Institute
- Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits with particular emphasis on “be proactive” and “begin with the end in mind”
You probably could come up with your own list of desirable traits if you had time and inclination to do so. I’d be interested in hearing what traits you have in mind and the strategies that you use to foster those traits. Check out the link on my blog to share what you’re comfortable sharing.) Dedicating the time to reflect on your personal beliefs and goals is a challenge for most of us, and culling through the research on child development and learning is even more complicated. That’s where I come in.
Can I offer the ultimate how-to-not-stress and raising great kids manual? Don’t I wish. But what I will offer in the next several weeks of blogs, is an outline of “10 Desirable Traits to Foster in Young Children.” With a review of current literature and illustrations vis-a-vis anecdotes and real-life examples, I’ll share the qualities that help kids build solid relationships, build on their strengths as learners, and develop a sense of their place in the world.
I’m lucky enough to work with and know many amazing children and parents who show me these traits every day. And I’m the kind of person who really gets a kick thinking about what I observe and read and putting it all together. So that’s my offer to you, my readers. In return, I ask you to stay tuned, share the newsletter and blog, and give me your two cents (leave a comment).
Together, we’ll explore the 10 Desirable Traits to Foster in Young Children” and ways to accomplish our important work as parents, care givers and teachers.