As elaborated earlier, a child is a precious seed that needs appropriate nourishment to grow and evolve into a healthy human being!
Nourishing a child involves providing wholesome nourishment … encompassing all the aspects, not just the physical. These are broadly classified as; Physical, Mental, Social, Spiritual and Emotional.
Nourishment of the Physical being…
* Children grow rapidly in this phase. Care should be taken to give them the proper diet to help them in their overall development and growth. Improper diets will lead to lot of health problems later.
* This is a phase when they lose their milk teeth and get their new permanent teeth. Care should be taken to see that their self esteem is not affected by the change in their look, smile, etc. positive reinforcements will give them the much needed support in the face of ridicule from friends and peers.
* Hearing and eyesight should be monitored regularly. Many a times, it has been found that it is the hearing or eyesight issues that lead to poor performance rather than lack of skills or intelligence.
* Children must be encouraged to have physical activity. But care should be taken that the amount of physical activity is age appropriate. Else, it will lead to a burn out and in turn, loss of concentration and crankiness.
* Sleep. Is of paramount importance. It helps to not only rejuvenate the body but also in assimilating all the learning that is done on a daily basis.
Nourishment of the Mental faculties…
Which is the most important subject? When asked this question, most parents answered either science or mathematics! I was undecided but nowhere near the answer!!
According to experts, Language is the most important subject. Surprised??… I was 🙂
Language skills, especially reading and comprehension are most valued. It goes.. ‘Learn to read so that you can read to learn’ Just perfect. Isnt it? I felt why didnt I think of that!
When a child begins to read and comprehend, its mental faculties begin to expand!! So at this initial stage of learning, appropriate emphasis on language skills is very necessary… so that the right foundation is laid for further learning in the true sense! Not of the rote learning variety…
Nourishment of the Social aspects…
* Friendships at this stage are of transient nature. It is more of companionship rather than an emotional bonding. Hence children tend to make friends easily as well as let go of friends. Nevertheless, friendships help the child grow in many ways. Hence children should be encouraged to make friends and to involve in group activities.
* Parents and siblings are an integral part of a child’s life. A wholesome, encouraging environment goes a long way in molding the child’s outlook towards life!! Needless to say… the child’s first and best lessons in life are learnt from the ways of the family. However, opposed to the trend of parents being friends to their kids, the speaker suggests that a parent should be a parent and not a friend to their kids. They can indeed be a friendly parent whom the child can look up to but not a friend who the child treats as an equal!!
As for siblings, parents have a vital role to play in providing a balanced environment for the siblings… where they can grow as individuals with self esteem. Parents should take care to avoid behavior that will boost one of them but demoralize the other. They should encourage them to bond, share and learn harmoniously.
* An interesting aspect here was the introduction of the concept of the Traffic lights at home! Red light to indicate the rule(s) that are to be followed by everyone in the family. Like maybe washing hands before a meal, etc. Amber light to indicate rule(s) that are different for people of different ages. Like, the children should go to bed by 9 and parents can go to bed later, giving them time to catch up on unfifnished tasks, books or a movie maybe 🙂 Then comes the Green light, which indicates flexibility…freedom of expression, the freedom to indulge in activities that help one blossom!
Nourishment of the Spiritual aspect…
Traits or qualities in an apple are passed on to the seeds and in turn are passed on to apples and the process continues… So also are values. A certain set of values get passed on through generations… explicitly and implicitly! So care should be taken to teach/pass on the right social and moral values to a child so that it can grow spiritually and gain mental strength to face the roller coaster called life! This may involve certain amount of unlearning and relearning of values/habits by the parents themselves!! Involves awareness and right attitude from the parent(s). Not an easy thing to do… but definitely achievable if there is the willingness to invest in the child’s well being 🙂
Nourishment of the Emotional aspect…
The emotional well being of a child underlines its overall health… including the physical, mental, social and spiritual. And the primary need of a child is to be heard… to be communicated with. It is of great significance then, to communicate with the child. Which is not just limited to listening. It is important to ‘talk with your body to the child’s body’!
Try this simple exercise with someone in front of you.. Tell the person(s) to do the same along with you.
Hold your right hand forward .. in front of the face and bring the thumb, forefinger and middle finger together. Now, bring the fingers to your face and touch your right cheek, while saying aloud ‘Touch your chin’. Observe the other person(s). Note that he/she will most probably touch the cheek and not the chin as told. All the parents in the hall touched their cheeks!!!
This is the power of visual communication! As per studies, only a small percent of the information is registered through hearing!! To ensure wholesome communication with the child, try to focus your whole body to the child’s. A simple nod or answer while busy with your own work may be sufficient many a times. But there will be times when the child needs your attention… more than hearing. Make it possible for your to communicate with your child in a wholesome manner. It will boost the child like nothing else 🙂
I was very glad to have attended the counselling session. I am hoping that I’ll be able to apply at least some part of this learning in raising my kids. And also hope that it may be of some use to those who read me 🙂 now… or in the future 😉 Happy parenting!!!
P.S: These points are for parents of children of age group 7-14. And mostly as said by the speaker. These are meant to provide direction and are not exhaustive.