Thursday, May 7, 2009

Children Adapt to their Surroundings

Do you ever wonder how we actually survive being parents without ever reading the nonexistent Parents Manual? I know it hasn’t been an easy road for me with five kids but we’ve all managed to survive the years of learning to get along and believing in one other.

When my first child was born, it took me about an hour to put on her little undershirt. I was afraid of hurting her so I took my time moving her little body while I dressed her.

When my second child came along, it took me about half an hour to put on his undershirt.

With my third pregnancy (twin girls) it took me about fifteen minutes to put on their undershirts, combined, not each.

By the time my last child came around, I simply flipped her in the air, and let her ease into her undershirt as she tumbled back down.

Okay, so this last part didn’t happen but what I’m trying to tell you is this: as new parents we’re faced with new situations with our first child for us to adapt and get to know. By the time the next child is born, we’re already experienced and our job is now a bit easier, like me flipping my last kid into her undershirt. We also need to understand that children are like little sponges, absorbing our actions, our words, our mannerisms…that is why it’s important for us to be on our guard at all times. Can you imagine the embarrassment at a family function and our child suddenly decides to show off a new word he heard mommy or daddy say out loud?

But just to backtrack for a second, when my oldest daughter was born, there were complications during labor and she was born via a cesarean. While in the prenatal ward, the nurse had a small radio by her crib with classical music playing all day. To this day, my daughter relaxes before an exam or a stressful day at work by listening to classical music. Coincidence? I don’t think so. She was exposed to this soothing music from a tender age and it blended within her being.

Nowadays, parents understand that our little sponges are capable of learning at a younger age than what our parents may have believed. I’m not saying to stress the kids out by constantly teaching them things. Remember when we were young, when our games included wooden blocks, shapes to place in their right slots…these are fun ways to sit and play with your child and in the process they are learning hand and eye coordination.

As they grow older parents are ecstatic to place their children in piano/sports/gymnastics and any other activity. Just remember this is where the overload may happen. Registering them for too many activities and not enough time to be with their friends or to simply ‘not’ do anything may stress them out.

I mentioned above about my oldest and the little radio playing classical music while she was in pre-natal care; children adapt to what they are exposed to at an early stage in life. In her case, it was music, which has helped her in some areas in her life as she aged. Now imagine a child who is reared in nothing more than yelling, screaming, and name-calling, what type of an adult would he/she become? How would this child be capable of being a ‘teacher’ to his/her own children if all he/she knew was the atmosphere they grew up in?

The bottom line is this: once we commit to marriage and to rearing children, we have a responsibility we need to be aware of…mentoring. Far too many young couples out there believe it will be ‘fun’ to have a kid. Yes, it is fun if the meaning behind ‘parent’ is understood. A big constraint on all parents is time with their children. Both parents in this century need to work to support a family and this, at times, sees them exhausted to the point there is no time for ‘quality’ play with their youngsters.

Many believe that buying material items will satisfy their children. In some respect it does, but not in the sense of raising a responsible child who appreciates these gifts. These gifts become meaningless to them, just items to pass their time.

Children need parents who are not afraid to say no when needed, parents who won’t turn around the next minute and change their minds. This confuses a child but also begins to build in them the notion that ‘yeah, sure, you’ll change your mind once we get home.’ They won’t feel the discipline nor respect your guidelines in the end since you are easily manipulated.

Friends can easily sway children as they become teenagers if they haven’t had the opportunity to bond with their parents and feel they can turn to them when they are emotionally cornered at some point. That is why it is important to begin your bonding once the doctor places your baby in your arms, and you cradle them for the very first time. This is when the magic begins.

Lea Schizas

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