As parents these days, it is crucial to understand about early childhood development. Human brain grows at an explosive rate during first three years of human life. During this critical period of brain growth, tiny neuro system grows inside the brain connecting and transmitting electrical impulses from brain cell to another. The neuro system network produced and developed in young brain daily, forms foundation of neurotic skills that are beneficial and are going to be used by a child for the rest of his life. Experiences from birth, along with your child’s genetical attributes determine the brain wiring at the end of the day.
Connection that is in the brain slowly waits for input of new experience that develops neuro system for linguistic capabilities, common senses, problem solving and moral values. New experiences are built on the existing pattern creating new patterns and networks for more learning processes. The connection that is used repeatedly will become permanent and will be stored permanently as long-term memories. That is why it is very important for parents to have comprehensive knowledge on early childhood development to resolve common problems.
Parents are advised to give as much stimuli as possible to the children’s brains so that their brains develop rapidly, by involving in games and fun activities while interacting with their child(ren). Every activity you perform with your children like playing, talking, walking, reading, hugging, and singing helps your children to increase their brain activities positively and efficiently. When you use your imagination with them, for instance, you help their brains to create their own imagination path, and children recalls the experiences with emotional attachment component that they have. Tender and loving pleasure combined with positive responsive language from parents can create atmosphere in which learning is encouraged.
The things that parents do with their children in their early years will improve their learning capabilities in their future. These experiences are not meant to be replaced by high-tech games such as tablets, video games, TV, and others. Before we have a child, we all think that we will become perfect parents. No TV, No Mobile Phones, no iPads. But let’s be real here. Screens are now part of daily lives and they sneak in and become one of the solutions to calm children down or to keep them still. After your children acquire habits to watch, it is difficult to make them not to watch. So, what are the strategies that we can try? Boundaries! Boundaries are the key here. Another big thing Is role modeling from your part because you need to be able to show them the acceptable behaviors. Children will watch and learn from their observation more than they will with following verbal instructions. So, remember this “Do what I do”, and not “Do what I say”. Be careful with the messages that you send on your mobile phone when you sit down next to your children. There’s time and place and that’s where the boundaries exist. Keep the mobile phone or any other gadgets away from the area that is meant for sleeping, keep the power banks and mobile phones in the common area. Watch the time limit for your children to be in front of screens, and set clear rules. Content that is viewed by your children is as important as the time they spend on the electronic gadgets.
Babies start to learn problem solving skills early through basic reasoning and flexibility of basic cause and effect. When children become toddlers, their problem-solving skills have become more matured. They learn curiosity, patience, strive to achieve goals, and to gain trust in their own capabilities to gain solutions.
Below are several games and baby activities for brain development that you can play along with your toddlers. They are grouped into special skills. Even though certain skills are the main focus, yet every game involves development of several combinations of skills. These activities are also meant to produce ideas and to inspire you to join with other people. Do not hesitate to create variations in the games. For example, “Walk in the park” can become “Walk to the beach”, or “Walk to the Park”. Make sure you play with your children in a safe environment using safe materials that give sufficient values for the children’s sensories system.
In my experience as a school principle, and a parenting consultant for parents at my school, I often find parents with excessive worries when raising toddlers, and give attention and protection overly which produces negative effect in child’s behavior. One thing to remember is that when babies are growing, they learn and absorb by observing their surroundings, and they copy what they experience and learn including learning to decline and to say “No”. No parents wish their children to become rebellious and the sad truth is that it is sometimes inevitable in the real life. If the child talks back every suggestion, instruction, or question with “No”, what do you have to do? This oppositional condition is healthy, and normal, things that children say “No” in this period, from food, dress, until equipment that they use, daily activities, the list can go on, is part of growing up process and solving cause and effect.
In my experience, I also find that trying to distract attention can be a useful technique in this situation. Clear and accurate narration can help parents to deal with this problem. Using narration like “When I was a child, I used to…” or “This and this is like…” or perhaps using one of their favorite cartoon characters to convince them, and to help them understand an instruction. Just like I said, this is a normal phase, when a child says “No”, avoids, and sits in their room with hands crossed as a gesture of emotional expression that is against their will.
Beside the problems above, tantrum is also one of common problems for parents. In this age, children learn language and learn to communicate, so anger is normal and they will reach a point where a child kicks, and scream while rolling over on the floor. Since children are still growing, and sometimes because of their inabilities to use verbal expression children have difficulties in managing their emotions. It is normal for them to express it through screaming and hysterical crying. For a start, to deal with this problem is by being patience, because if we show our stress then it becomes difficult for us to control our toddler’s emotions. So, it is important to show calm faces when dealing with your child’s tantrum.
Give your child opportunity to do something independently, even though it is against your will. They once relied on you for everything, now they need to learn to do daily activities by themselves. They do not need you 24/7 like they used to, you can let them pour milk themselves even maybe they would make a mistake and make a mess. Give them self-autonomy like choosing their own clothes, even though the wardrobe will be messy. Developing the sense of autonomy is an important part in child development, allowing them to make mistakes to gain new skills, and we are not supposed to hold them back from learning from mistakes. This will make them understand through habits and personal experiences. Predicting an outcome is very good, and depending on the skills involved, these will strengthen them when they start to show independent behaviors. Building the sense of autonomy is very important for your child in becoming independent.
What you need to remember is the long-term goal, that is whatever we teach and instill in them now will be beneficial for them in becoming independent individual that possesses skills to handle their problems.
Lily Norita – School Principle of Tutor Time Bukit Kelapa Gading – Jakarta Utara