I read this post by Sangi for her son’s 8th birthday. The first thoughts I had were of relief that there is still time to build a foundation for N after reading this – “So what I think I know today is that we’re over the first phase of parenting – that initial 0 – 7 block where most major physical development happens.”
She describes some of the building blocks of phase 1 (0 to 7 years) very well and what she and her family have accomplished in that category. That inspired me to jot down what I have been thinking about in bits and pieces. A sort of guideline I would like to go by in the years to come.
N is 3 years, 10 months and 12 days old as of today. And we keep working on a lot of areas of development – both physical and mental. But ideally there are some things I would like to focus on and achieve, more than others, over the next few years! I say years because a friend who has 2 boys mentioned some time back that it does take about 6 to 7 years to teach them all they need to know about the basics. The learning never stops though… it is a lifetime process. But around 7 years they are pretty independent and have a basic set of values, manners and interests.
~ Social skills – basic courtesy of saying hellos and byes when we meet people or go to someone’s place. Thank you’s and pleases are mandatory too! I normally ask N if he would like to show his affection or love by giving a hug or a kiss but I wouldn’t push him if he doesn’t want to. I feel that is the worst thing to do, you actually crush the child’s intuition and sense of good or bad and you put them in an uncomfortable spot.
~ Physical development – So far N has been a very active kid and sometimes on the extreme end in the sense he just cannot sit idle. He likes running around and playing games and is a big outdoor person. I intend to continue and encourage that. Maybe start a formal sport once he displays and interest in something and is at an appropriate age to learn that. For now I would like to make full use of the opportunity of being in New Zealand and their stress on learning the life-saving-skill of swimming. Lately he has been mentioning and showing us some gymnastics, partly because of the Olympics going on – the real ones and in his school too! I feel building stamina and endurance is also important along with overall physical development.
~ Helping around the house – I DO NOT want N to become one of those boys/men/boyfriends/husbands who think there is nothing they can do to help around the house or cooking is something they cannot do or the lady is there to take care of everything and she does it so well. I want him to be self-reliant and learn all the skills needed to manage a house and that includes cooking! He already displays an interest in cooking or helping me cook so that is good. He makes his bed in the morning by spreading the blanket on it, helps me set the table sometimes and I would like him to help with other stuff like, load the dishwasher, lay the table, do odd errands, load the laundry and help in general. His teacher at school says that he displays a keen interest in cooking and is the first one to help when things like pizza and jelly are being made at school.
~ Table manners – We need to learn to sit and eat properly without horsing around. Some days are good, some days are well best not spoken of – totally embarrassing and frustrating for both him and me!! We are working on picking up our plate and putting it into the dishwasher once done; to keep our elbows off the table and use our fork, spoon and napkin – okay maybe that last one will take some more time to achieve fully.
~ Sleep – After coming to NZ, N has a very good sleep routine. He is in pre school from 9 to 4 for 3 days a week. Once he is back he does one or more or all of these – play with his toys/blocks/cardboard boxes/pretend play/watch TV/videos/games on the laptop, then has a bath followed by dinner, brushing teeth, read a book or two and then zzzzzzz. He sleeps by 8 or 8:30 pm every night and wakes up at 7:30 so that is about 11 hours of sleep. But he still wakes up at night and comes to our room either wanting to sleep with us or asking us to put him to sleep. So I hope we slowly get rid of that and sleep pretty much through the night – that will mean N will have to learn how to put himself to sleep without any help. Note to self – Work on that aspect. Till then handle the dark circles around my eyes because of lack of an undisturbed 7 to 8 hr sleep.
~ Empathy – N has always been a little rough physically and he tests the boundaries we set for him very often. That has resulted in a very stressed out me in certain situations! 😦 But it has become better over the years. He is using words to express feelings. We need to keep working on that though, gentle touch, please use words, what would you do if someone did that to you (this one does work). Over the last 6 months I have noticed him listening more easily, understanding situations. And I have been reading a lot of parenting books too, to understand the working of a child’s mind somewhat better. I wish he learns to empathize with other people and their situations – a demanding wish, I know. This is something that even adults fail to do most of the time!
~ Reading – If there is one thing I would want to pass on to my son that would be the love of reading. Books have been a wonderful companion for me and I would love for N to discover the joy of reading books, the doors that books open to a magical, make-believe, sometimes real world! We read every week, go to the library often and are catching up on self reading too. One very good site we have come across is http://readingeggs.co.nz/ we have a 5 week free subscription right now. If any of you are interested, do let me know I have some free trial codes which I can share via email.
~ Respect – First, I would like to respect N as an individual and treat him the way I would want him to treat me. Second, I would like N to respect his parents, family, friends, teachers and any other individual. The same that he expects from them. Talking back and foul language puts me off totally and it can spoil my mood in an instant (yes, yes I am working on it!!).
~ Know his family – I want him to know his immediate/extended family – his maternal and paternal grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins on both sides. I want him to know that the circle of trust goes beyond just mommy daddy and there are other people who adore and love him to pieces. He should have the luxury of spending time with his grandparents, his cousins, his close friends; to know them and mutually share experiences and love. I feel it is a privilege of having family, one we tend to ignore too often, by seeing only the negatives.
This is not a full or final list but more of a guideline for me. I know this list could be longer, shorter or different for other people. To each his own 🙂
To end, I read somewhere that focus on making your kids good human beings and the rest will just follow. Amen!