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Empowering our young children

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Monika Pedersen

Relationships are the essence of our lives, and, in our early years, especially, it tends to be the connection between a mother and her child that is of primary significance.

The maternal bond between mother and child begins in the womb. The months during pregnancy and after a child is born is the time when a child is almost entirely dependent on their mother. In these very early stages, the interactions between the two form the tight social and emotional connections that are crucial in the formative years of a child's development.

The love lavished by a mother helps newborns trust others and encourages them to feel stable and secure in their surroundings. The time invested in creating an environment of safety through physical contact, verbal interaction, play and stimulation are invaluable. In fact, it is critical in nurturing the development of a child's processing abilities, functioning skills, and cognitive growth.

“Being a good listener and empathetic also supports the development of a grounded young person who feels self-assured, valued and capable.”

Mothers are the linchpin

A child is very impressionable, so a mother needs to consider the tone of voice and language used, facial expressions exhibited, and reactions, for negative emotions and behaviours can impact young minds in a lasting way. In addition, the routines followed, the values demonstrated, and the attitude modelled towards life and its obstacles all influence a child's perceptions and consequent behaviour.

Establishing routines helps young people feel reassured - thus, repeated practices such as a set dinner, bath, and bedtimes provide valuable structures that encourage a child to transition well and navigate the day. Discussing the plan for the weekend shows a child their thoughts are appreciated and again reinforces their importance as an individual. While visiting favourite places like the park and enjoying activities such as an ice cream together provides the opportunity to talk and learn about your child's inner thoughts and feelings. Being a good listener and empathetic also supports the development of a grounded young person who feels self-assured, valued, and capable.

Partnership with school

When a child starts to attend school, a mother's influence and involvement with her child helps to extend and reinforce classroom learning. For example, a mother who reads with her child regularly oversees homework assignments being completed and organises visits to the library, museums, art galleries, and recreational activities such as swimming or ice skating aids a child's educational pathway.

Forming a positive relationship with your child's school and the class teacher is a profitable partnership for your child. The interests and goals are aligned and provide a fantastic platform of support. In addition, being involved with the class parent group through activities such as birthdays, play dates, sleepovers etc., gives an insight into your child's friends and friendships. It also offers an invaluable network of fellow parents who look out for each other's children and support each other.

By taking a healthy interest in your child's education, you demonstrate to your child that school is important and that working hard and trying to do your best are essential aspects of life. Praising a child's efforts encourages them to try again and instils a desire to succeed. Being mindful that the focus is on trying and participating is key, for it is crucial not to place pressure upon a child to have the best grades or show disappointment if they have not made a standard. This is damaging and a sure way to discourage and sour the schooling experience.

Later years

As your child evolves into a teenager, the role can become a significant challenge. Teenage moods, experimentation, boundary testing, and evolving into an independent young person are challenging for both parties. The best approach is to remain supportive, keep the channels of communication open, and continue demonstrating the love you have for your child. This is not easy, but the benefits of your efforts will be rewarded in the long term.

A gentle reminder

We live with different considerations and economic challenges, whereby it is often impossible to fulfil the desired, as the reality can differ significantly. As a mother, you can only do the best you can in your circumstances, so avoid comparing your provisions to others'. The love and time shared over any material goods are what is remembered by a child.


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