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5 Things You Can Do in the Early Years to Help Your Child’s Development

5 Things You Can Do in the Early Years to Help Your Child’s Development

How to help your infant grow into a confident, successful, healthy person.

As a parent of a young child, it can be overwhelming and difficult to find tangible actions from parenting resources that will contribute to a healthy upbringing for your kid. It’s helpful to know the specific steps you can take to teach your child what is right and wrong—and ensure she feels safe and confident. Christine Martin, author of You’ve Got This! Keys to Effective Parenting for the Early Years, shares what you can do to help navigate this confusing but crucial time in your child’s development.

Set aside uninterrupted bonding time.

As soon as your child is born, she is searching for a secure attachment that will allow her to confidently and safely explore the world and new things, according to Martin. It is essential to enhance these secure attachments by spending as much time as possible with her. More time spent with your child at this age will foster positive self-esteem, social-emotional development, and academic success. By dedicating 100 percent of your attention to your child as often as you can, you are allowing her to trust her caregiver and giving her the confidence she needs to grow and develop healthily.

Decide what you liked (and didn’t like) about your upbringing.

Often, parents copy the way they were parented without taking a closer look and determining if that really worked for them. Examine the parenting styles you were exposed to as a child and take the time to think, this is a style I’m comfortable with or that didn’t really work for me, Martin suggests. Think about how you can do better and how you can do just as great, but don’t mimic without thinking about what you’re doing and if you really believe in it.

Make routines and stick to them.

Once your child begins school, he will be in a daily routine for the rest of his school years. The best way to teach him how to deal with everyday tasks and teach him responsibility is to get started as soon as possible. Take photographs of your child brushing his teeth, putting on his pajamas, and whatever else is part of his bedtime routine, and then hang them up on the wall in the bathroom as a fun way to help him remember what he needs to do before bed.

Encourage positive behaviors, no matter how small.

Instead of focusing on how to discipline your child after she’s gotten in trouble, Martin suggests focusing on the tangible ways you can teach your child to minimize and overcome these behaviors. If your daughter shares her toy with her little brother, make sure you praise her, so she knows these sorts of actions get positive attention. Even if she is simply working hard on a drawing, compliment the amount of colors she is using and foster confidence in positive behaviors instead of drawing attention to the negative ones.

Talk to your child about feelings.

Another way to contribute to fewer negative behaviors is by teaching your child how to react when he isn’t getting what he wants. Teach your child the words for different feelings, so he knows how to express himself. Take the time at the dinner table or when you’re driving together in the car to ask, “How did you feel today? Were you excited about what you learned in school today? Did you feel frustrated?” By using these words, your child will know how to handle conflict vocally rather than resorting to physical actions. Another way of doing this is by giving your child realistic alternatives to a situation if he isn’t getting what he wants. If he wants to play with the truck his sister is playing with, he can play with another toy, he can ask to take turns, or you can give him a timer and teach him to negotiate with his sister that it will be his turn once the timer goes off.

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Melissa Wickes

Author: Melissa Wickes is a graduate of Binghamton University and the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. She's written hundreds of articles to help New York parents make better decisions for their families. When she's not writing, you can find her eating pasta, playing guitar, or watching reality TV. See More

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