How Can You Best Improve Your Child's Development

Never before was parenting discussed so much as in the last century. This is linked to the fact that great changes took place in our family-life, our way of life and our roles as husband and wife. How can you be a good parent while at the same time respect the rights of the child to develop as an individual?

Full-time jobs, driving young children to minders or kindergarten and a constant lack of time. It is therefore not surprising that parents - who all want to be the world's best mother or father - feel guilty and the victim of circumstances. Some think that this 'bad conscience' is the reason why many children are so pampered and excessively assertive. The children get the upper hand within the family dynamics. They refuse to eat properly, go to bed on time and spend too much time in front of the computer….

It's the parents' responsibility to teach the child about life, but it is a two-way process that needs the involvement of the child. The child has to learn to distinguish between right and wrong, that there are rules, and that to succeed in life, he/she will have to learn to make the right decisions. He or she has to feel good, and this happens when the child knows what to do and where the boundaries lie. So ask yourself what type of family life you want and what you expect from your children.

That a parent can arrange his or her affairs and have the time to teach the children how they should deal with their various needs and and resolve conflicts is easier said than done. For a parent, the easy way is to be a bit more slack. Parents can namely become impatient and feel they can do the chore faster themselves. But when a parent becomes impatient and gets involved with doing the chore because it would get done more quickly (and not just to help), then he or she short changes both him/herself as well as the child.

For a child to develop self-confidence, he or she has to be treated properly at home. When children learn to help each other, to tidy up together, determine the order of the chores and share chores, they learn to stand up for each other and not only to think about themselves. These are important skills that build pride and satisfaction. A child who is not given the opportunity to try out new things and learn to cope with failure can become afraid to try out new things. The child grows up and thinks that he/she can do it, but six and seven year-olds who cannot even tie their laces or go to the toilet will definitely have self-confidence issues.

One of the biggest problems that we often encounter is that children cannot concentrate for long periods - many find it difficult to stick to a chore for more than a few moments. Self-discipline is an important characteristic to learn - it makes life easier in so many ways. Restless children that keep on changing hobbies and even friends have more difficulty with learning processes. As a parent, you are the role-model for your child and if you find it difficult to be patient and to share your little time, then you cannot expect your child to ably cope with this sort of pressure.

The love that you feel as parent can't be matched: despite the fact that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in life, it is truly worth it. Show the child that he or she is a gift that gives you so much in return.


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Advice from Lars H. Gustafsson, paediatrician and father of eight:

From the book "Growing up -- and not obeying", issued by the publishing house Norstedts Uitgeverij.

  • Always believe the best about your child.
  • You should spend an unlimited amount of time on your child each day anew.
  • Read, talk, sing, and play.
  • Respect the integrity of your child.
  • Apply rules that are as strict as possible, but also show patience.
  • Respect the rights of your child to feel appreciated and precious.
  • Open your home and show interest in the friends of your child.
  • Actively participate in school-related activities.

The book "Parents' big book about children" is also a recommended read. The book was released by the publishing house Bonnier Fakta Uitgeverij and has been translated into English, the Dutch version is still in the making.

The book deals with children from the ages of 0 up to 6. It has been written for parents from 2010 onwards and contains tips from 80 prominent Swedish experts.

Likewise, the book "Baby- en kinderverzorging & Opvoeding (Baby and child care & upbringing)" by Dr. Benjamin Spock, an American paediatrician is used as a guideline for the upbringing of many Swedish children. It was the first 'parenting bible' ever. It was written as a reference book with chapters and was first published in 1946. Eleven editions have since been released, including Dr. Spock's more radical theories, and more than 30 million copies were sold over the counter worldwide. Benjamin Spock was innovative and argued that parents should trust their own common sense. He argued for relaxing the strict rules on time and the attitude from the past.

But, more importantly, don't be too much impressed with what experts say. Trust your own instincts and common sense when it comes to parenting. The natural, loving care that genuine parents give their children counts for much more than advice from an expert on how to change a nappy.

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