Emotional Growth

Keeping up with your child’s needs in terms of schoolwork and leisure activities can be a challenging undertaking.  But this is one of the most important things you can do. Know what is going on in your child’s classes at school. Be a strong advocate and partner in helping the school provide an appropriate education for your child and for all children.

Encourage your child to spend time in daily reading or study, even if no work has been specifically assigned. The development of good student skills and good organisational and time management skills does not come without practice. Establish a study hour in your home when study is done every night regardless of whether homework has been given.  Of course, not all learning takes places at school. Children need access to a multitude of other resources and experiences to help them develop their talents fully. Find out what resources are available in your community. Theatres and art centres, libraries and bookstores, museums and national parks, historic buildings, wildlife sanctuaries and cultural centres are obvious places to start.

But some of the best community resources are not always the most obvious ones. A person in a nearby retirement home may be an expert in your child’s area of special interest. A local radio station may have access to information which may fascinate your child. A restaurant serving exotic foods may provide a window on a part of the world your child knows nothing about. Participating in a volunteer project may help develop many of the social skills your child needs. Look into such resources and encourage your children to take advantage of them as their needs and time allow.

The emotional needs of children are at least as important as their intellectual growth. Watch for signs of stress, particularly in children who are overloaded with activities or who tend to be perfectionists. The best thing to do for a stressed out child may simply be to make that child slow down, eliminate some activities and relax. For a perfectionist, sharing stories of your own failures may help to show that experiencing failure is not the end of the world. In fact, you may be able to explain how one of your failures was actually a great learning experience in the long run.

Encourage motivation by being excited and enthusiastic about learning new things yourself, and share these with your children. Encourage self-confidence by pointing out not only your child’s strengths and abilities, but also the efforts made in overcoming difficulties. Sometimes this effort leads to the greatest strengths of all.  Help guide decision-making, but allow your children to make their own decisions, and yes, sometimes their own mistakes, as that is how they learn and grow.  Children come with no guarantees. Nevertheless, parents can help them grow into adulthood well, each realising their individual potential and becoming the adults they were meant to be.

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