The Messages You Send to Your Children: How to Raise Able Kids.Eliana Tardio
Learning is a natural process in the life of human beings. It comes spontaneously in every action and with every reaction. If your child is exposed to a positive environment filled with motivation and empowerment, he will learn that his efforts are worthy and recognized, and will keep on learning while feeling loved and accepted. If instead, he receives negative reactions all the time by a parent diminishing his abilities because he’s slower to reach physical or developmental milestones, he will grow up thinking that he’s not good enough for you or for anyone else and that he is not able.
Early Intervention is nothing more than offering any child the typical opportunities he needs to grow and develop, reinforcing his abilities instead of focusing on his limitations. Despite the fact that the term is mainly associated with kids with a disability, early intervention itself is a label-free process that everyone can provide to their children as they grow.
To give your child a life of opportunities and achievements, take a look at the following easy steps:
Set aside the developmental charts. Your child is a unique individual and not doing something at the expected age range doesn’t mean he’s not doing well. It is important to analyze your child’s progress individually rather than comparatively, to determine his need for support and to be sure he’s doing well, whether he’s right on schedule or slower than others the same age. Children often advance faster in some areas and lag behind in others. This is a parent’s first clear clue of their child’s strengths and interests!
For kids with special needs, we commonly see desperate and frustrated parents pushing their kids to achieve the typical milestones. The more focused they are on the next step, the less they get enjoy the present moment. Those parents are sending the wrong message to their children, unconsciously making them feel that their efforts are not worthy. Be very careful of this. This is the foundation of a child’s self-esteem and self-perception. He doesn’t have a clue about development and what the books say, everything he knows is what he perceives from a parent responding to his acts.
Examples of how our attitude may affect our kids’ development
Positive.- My son is almost two years old. He’s not walking yet but he’s crawling very well. We have plenty of fun with him. His siblings are doing crawling races with him all the time. We know he’ll start walking when he’s ready. In the meantime, we are doing all that we can to support him, and we celebrate seeing him happy and healthy. Some extra time for exercising and muscle development is all that he needs.
Negative.- My son is still crawling and he’s almost two years old. We are pushing him all the time and have decided to increase his physical therapies. He’s lazy compared to his siblings; they all walked at 12 months of age. We put him in a standing position but he keeps falling over. We are drained and nothing seems to work to get him walking.
Both parents want to do their very best for their child; the only difference is the attitude that will eventually influence the child’s auto-perception of self. What’s the difference between walking a few months earlier or later? There is none in the grand scheme of things, but when we accept our kids’ individual evolution with love, they feel confident about the things they can do; and of course, the opposite is true.
Everything comes at the right time and it is our responsibility as parents to offer our kids the opportunities they need to evolve and grow without pressure. We should always focus on their abilities instead of their limitations.
Another example with a very common concern: Language
Negative.- My son is already 3 years old and he doesn’t say more than ten words. I’m desperate and I think he’ll never speak well. I’m always stressed about this situation. He has a lot of behavior issues. He cries a lot and I can’t understand what he wants in order to help him. I have no more patience, and therapies are not working.
Positive.- My son is already 3 years old and although he only knows about ten words, he’s using them all the time. This gives me hope to believe he will keep developing with the right intervention. We are always supporting communication at home. We are using alternative methods to improve his communication, like baby signs, pictures books and even an ipad app that he seems to like. We are patient, we give him a lot of attention, and even though it’s not always easy, he knows we believe in him and that we appreciate his efforts.
We parents all live through similar situations. The only difference is our way of perceiving and receiving what is presented to us.
There are two choices at the time of facing challenges: become frustrated, or get empowered and keep going . What’s your personal choice at the time of facing challenges? Do you feel ready to move forward, to learn, and grow or do you become angry and bitter about the cards life has dealt to you?
Our environment usually offers all the things that our kids may need: the park, the neighborhood complete with neighbors and friends, the sun, moon, day, and night. Every moment and every piece of the world symbolizes an opportunity to teach our kids something new; But this learning only happens when we’re open to it and positive about it. When we, because we are closed off and frustrated by our circumstances, teach our children to pay no attention to the blooming roses, changing clouds, or elderly neighbor struggling to shovel snow, we take away precious opportunities for them to learn as able kids do!
Therapies are not magic. Rather, they are a tool provided by a professional that requires family support and positivity to work! Give your child positive attention in order to truly learn about and respect him, his needs, and his deepest desires.
Regardless of your child’s born abilities or lack thereof, we, as parents, possess the power to raise able kids simply by teaching them that they are already able, no matter their level of development or number of accomplishments thus far. They are already able. Because whether they’re speaking full sentences at ten months or ten years of age, they are able.