Saturday, January 9, 2010


"I think all parents agree that raising a child today is especially difficult.....many parents feel no matter how good a job they do, their efforts have little overall effect upon their child....Just the opposite is true. Every study I've read indicates that the home wins hands down in every case. The influence of parents far outweighs everything else. The home holds the upper hand in determining how happy, secure and stable a child is; how a child gets along with adults, peers and different children; how confident a youngster is in himself and his abilities; how affectionate he is or how aloof; how he responds to unfamiliar situations. Yes, the home, despite many distractions for a child, has the greatest influence on him."
Ross Campbell: How to ReallyLove Your Child.

The author of these words (a child psychiatrist), goes on to discuss the second greatest influence on a child - their congenital temperament. This week I want only to talk about this first influence - home.
When I read this quote I was drawn to the sentence I have highlighted - "The influence of parents far outweighs everything else." It's a bold, confident statement, but is it true?
Living in the country I have the benefit of being able to watch nature just outside the window. These last months I have watched blackbirds make nests, lay eggs, hatch eggs, naked creatures feather-up, parents feed their open-mouthed babies, babies learn to fly and then leave. Sounds a bit like a human family! I know as we move on through this year, I'll see these same bird that were babies, going about life as their parents did and probably this time next year having babies themselves.
Now I can hear you say - that that's all fine with birds, but people are different, they're lives are more complex. And that is true. But in our homes, the habits we practice effect our kids, just as in the blackbird's family.
That highlighted sentence puts a lot of ownership back into our 'court'. It is really an encouragement to us, to willingly takeup everyday opportunities of being with our kids, knowing that these moments are investments into the development of our children.
How can this ideal be put into practice?
Well, the sentence that follows after the one I highlighted in the quote, gives lots of specific ideas to work with. For example
* What family things do we do that make my child feel happy and secure? Do one of them this week.
* What does my child like doing with Dad or Mum/friends/siblings? Arrange for it to happen this week.
* This week watch your child and make a list of things you should complement, thank and praise your child for. Now do it.
* Decide to do something special with your child this week, with the express purpose of showing how much you love them. It doesn't have to be expensive or a huge time-taker - they just need YOU and your attention on them.
* You could take your child to an unfamiliar place as a surprise and do some happy activity together - eg - go for a swim at the beach after dark and eat chocolate on the beach afterwards.
- take an early morning bushwalk with a picnic breakfast.
- go for a car trip with your child blindfolded asking questions to see if they know where you are.....

You probably have got the point - it's all about being with the kids, listening to the kids, getting to know the kids, loving the kids, having a happy time with the kids....
So now you have lots of ideas to work with THIS WEEK WITH THE KIDS.

Remember to enjoy yourself.

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