ARTICLES

Cultivating an Environment for Your Family to Bloom and Grow

Tuesday, 24.05.2016

Each child is like a seed – full of potential to grow into a vigorous, productive and beautiful plant. For a seed to reach its full promise, it needs to grow in rich soil, have just the right amount of sun, water and fertilizer and grow in a pot spacious enough so that its roots can reach deep into the ground. 

Research on child development indicates that when children are given what they need to build a solid foundation in the early years, they are likely to have more resilience to deal with life’s curveballs later on. Read on to discover how you can nurture your children and help them bloom and grow into their full potential.

Good Soil - Grounded in a Sense of Security

The most critical ingredients a child needs to develop and thrive on are security and stability. Ideally, families are a safe haven for children where they feel secure, accepted and are guided as they grow and develop into competent individuals, socially and emotionally. A child can feel the sense of security nurturing parents provide, from the very first days of his or her life.

Children possess an amazing ability to learn, experience, and feel. When they are nurtured with warmth, compassion and consistency, they can develop at their own pace. Children, at all stages of development, always need to know that there is a place of security where they can touch base, find protection and know that they are valued.

Water – The Conduit of Communication

Healthy communication is a key characteristic of strong, healthy families. Research identifies communication as an essential building block of strong parent-child and sibling relationships. Communication within the family is important because it allows family members to express their needs, wants, and concerns to each other.

Healthy communication means being open and honest and listening actively to the other person, which in turn creates an atmosphere that allows family members to express their differences as well as love and support for one another. Effective communication also means effective problem solving, and hence it is a key “lubricant” needed to smooth over and work through problems which a family may encounter.

Sunshine - Mutual Respect and Trust

Children who grow up basking in the warmth of mutually respectful and trusting family relationships will be more likely to grow into trusting, caring individuals themselves. Love, honesty, reliability and a concern for each other are the hallmarks of such a family.

A trusting and respectful home considers individual boundaries, encourages family members to take responsibility for their own attitudes and behaviours, and sees each person as uniquely formed and having a specific purpose in life.

Fertiliser - Values Learning and Small Acts of Love

Values determine the way people live. Whether parents are paying attention to this or not, their child’s value system is being shaped every day by: parents themselves, peers, teachers, celebrities and the media. Values are learned at home through observation. By observing and copying their parents’ actions, children shape their sense of right from wrong, their behaviours, their motivations and how they choose to spend their money and time.

Little actions speak volumes for how people love. Parents who do things that require effort, planning and some sacrifice convey to their children that they are putting them first.

Little love[1] — small but frequent acts of kindness, consideration, and compassion— is what sustains the parent-child relationship in the long-term.

A Big Enough Pot - Space to Learn from Mistakes

Children need plenty of time and space to explore the world on their own terms; they need to make mistakes in order to learn and live life in order to know what life is. As parents, we need to allow our children to figure out who they are.

Giving them space means letting things happen rather than immediately jumping in to solve their problems or making them do things the way you want. It also means accepting that the richest kinds of learning and experience often cannot be measured or neatly packaged.

A child is not a product but a person with his or her own character, aptitudes and flaws. In that sense, parenting is more about discovering and celebrating who our children are rather than striving to turn them into what we want or think they should be.

References

Becker, J.  15 things children can (and should) value more than possessions. Becoming Minimalist. (http://www.becomingminimalist.com/15-things-children-can-and-should-value-more-than-possessions)

Diehl, D., Wente, J. & Forthun, L. F. (2011). Strengthening families: nurturing and attachment. University of Florida IFAS Extension. (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1248)

Family GPS. Develop your family’s growth, potential and strengths. (http://familygps.org/images/uploads/Discussion-Guide-Trust-Respect.pdf)

Honoré, C. (2008). Giving children space. (http://www.carlhonore.com/2008/05/giving-children-space/)

Leo, P. (1989). Creating more nurturing environments for children. The Natural Child Project. (http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/pam_leo3.html)

Peterson, R. & Green, S. Families first-keys to successful family functioning: communication. Virginia Cooperation Extension. (http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-092/350-092.html)

[1] Researchers call this “compassionate love” – recognizing another person’s needs and concerns and putting them ahead of your own. Harry T. Reis, a University of Rochester professor of psychology says that “It’s a way of communicating to the other person that you understand what they are all about and that you appreciate and care for them.”


This article first appeared on Families For Life, and is republished with permission.   

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