EVERY morning, I wake up asking myself “Am I leading my child to the right path?” and, when he grows up, will I be able to affirm that I did do my best? This makes me ponder on how I can strive to be a role model to my child.
As we are living in a fast-moving technological era, this is where every parent’s shoes pinch as each one has to keep abreast with technology to lead our children to the right track, and blend our voices with theirs.
To understand our children better, let us reflect back on a child’s psychological health and growth period.
According to Dr. Maria Montessori and child psychologists, we as parents must realize that child’s development from birth until puberty can be analyzed in three stages.
During the first stage from zero to six years, the child’s personality is formed. This stage has two sub-phases i.e. from birth to three years and then from three to six years.
The zero to three years is a period of self-construction where the child constructs his movement, language, intelligence, memory, emotions and creative faculties unconsciously and he also needs utmost care and nurturing from you.
The second phase, from three to six years, brings his unconscious knowledge to conscious level. It is a period of consolidation and the child needs freedom to strengthen and merge his knowledge. By the end of six years, his personality is completely developed.
As during these years from zero to six, the child imitates and learns everything, whether good or bad, from the environment, you as parents must carefully strive hard by being a great role model to him as this is his most sensitive and crucial period of development when the entire personality is formed. Indeed, this is the right time to mold the child subtly to shape him into a beautiful personality as he grows up.
Besides, you must lead the child to be independent and ensure he does almost all daily tasks by himself with only slight assistance. And, psychologically and naturally every child is born with “Help Me Do it Myself” attitude from the age one itself.
This is the phase when affectionate and over-protective parents make a grave mistake by doing all the work by themselves. Actually, not allowing the child to do tasks on his own is a great hindrance to his persona and making him dependent in his later years ahead throughout.
You also need to role model and guide positively in a consistent manner. Any negative image you impart to the child will hamper his personality wherein after six years, it might be too late to correct as he has completely lost the sensitive years of development.
The second stage is from six to 12 years. It is normally a period of great stability where the child is calm, happy and self-assured and also a period of mental development by strengthening his reasoning faculty and building of artistic and creative skills.
The third stage is from 12 to 18 years where there is tremendous change that it is equivalent to stage one of child’s developments. This stage has two sub-phases. From 12 to 15 years, there’s transformation in both physical and mental development. This stage is the end of childhood and beginning of puberty. This period of child’s life is a delicate period since many psychological characteristics are acquired.
Here he’s naturally prone to be disobedient and stubborn and also becomes conscious of himself. And for a parent, this period is the most challenging one as you have to lead the child and strive hard gently and firmly to put him to the right track every day.
The second phase from 15 to 18 years is the period of exploring more concentrated areas of interest in-depth. There are also physical changes and the body reaches its full maturity. It is a stage of development where independence accompanies by new social life and self-confidence comes in.
So, you need to realize that from zero to 18 years, a child learns everything from his environment particularly ethics, behavior, etiquettes, self-discipline, responsibility, social skills, cultural, moral and spiritual values and so on from the background created by parents at home and school.
Besides, we are also living in an era where a child blends his character from the internet world as he’s exposed to the entire world via technology. This is exactly why you must be vigilant and conscientiously lead the child by explaining the cyber rules thus keeping track of which site he visits.
Furthermore, you also need to inculcate healthy food habits in the child as he learns a lot from his surroundings. Even here, you must lead by being a role model as it will, definitely, his boost morale and help build healthy eating habits.
Problems related to adolescence like adamance, disobedience as in stage three of child’s development is best dealt with the help of parents and counselors. As the nature’s bond via breast-feeding during infancy is so strong between the parent and child, a child can easily relate to you, if you pay a listening ear to him by being a good friend too. Also as you are the most influential person in his life, you can easily correct his improper behavior anytime if approached in a friendly way.
Nevertheless, if you impart a negative role model image by either having some bad habits yourself or beating up the child, he may lose the trust with you and this will also hamper the child’s growth and even disturb him psychologically.
Motivating and encouraging in every stage of life by being optimistic and perceiving the child in a positive way will boost his morale and soars his self-confidence and self-esteem.
Spending quality and quantity time with your child throughout should seldom be a matter of preference but in fact an obligatory attribute by maintaining eye-contact and talking. Also get involved in the activity of his interest. This develops an understanding and strengthens the bond with you. So, time well-invested with a child is never a waste.
As a child spends most of his life with his parents, it is the duty of every parent to lead by being role models in all spheres of life. This point is equally applicable in academics too. A child with strong parental support and leadership fares far superior than a child without it. When you regularly check and follow-up issues pertaining to academics, he is easily motivated in class no matter how intellectual or non-intellectual he may be.
Moreover, values of life must be inculcated and instilled by leading through examples. Here are some of the most important values:
1. Respect others: Children who are given respect at home tend to give back the respect for others. Respect even the small value the child has and they will return back the respect to you and all others too.
2. Honesty & Courage: Though the child is naturally born without deceit and a lot of innocence yet he might get dishonest by watching TV which has hardly any moral values in it. So the value of honesty must be clearly instilled in the child. If he has done a mistake, let him admit and acknowledge it courageously.
3. Sharing and caring: Let the child develop the habit of sharing his favorite chocolate with his siblings or even with you and friends which help him become a great kind person as he grows up. This gives him the joy of sharing and caring.
4. Forgiveness: A child need not blindly forgive if it’s not his mistake yet through proper understanding he must learn to let go, otherwise he might hold grudge that will keep hurting him. So instilling forgiveness in your child will eventually instill another great quality in him i.e. kindness.
5. Patience: is a great virtue that needs to be instilled as this will help him endure hardships and trials of life, graciously.
6. Optimism & Confidence: You should teach him that challenges and failures are part of life and to succeed, a child needs to overcome failures by being optimistic which will indirectly boost his self-confidence thus help him win in life throughout.
Hence, you must cultivate and build leadership qualities in your child which will take him a long way in making him morally sound, strong and upstanding citizen. In other words, you must strengthen your leadership qualities by reading books on self-development and be effective role model as this is the foundation stone for progress of the child and is the real harbinger of success for children.
Thus you must keep up your dedication, commitment and excellence to nurture your child and lead him in all aspects throughout his growth period. Otherwise he might go astray in moral and cultural strength and reach a stage when things get out of hand and remain incorrigible or you might just land up with regrets later on.