Last updated on Feb 23rd, 2021 at 12:33 pm

By Developmental specialist, Dr Melodie de Jager

Good guidance

A child’s development is a joyous journey of discovery, adventures, trials and errors until one day, it all comes together and he gets it right – he walks, draws without moving his tongue or jaw and has made his first friend. Every skill a child learns demands time and the opportunity to repeat once more till his senses, wiring, muscle strength and muscle memory join forces to master a skill, only to start all over again with the next one. Each skill that’s been developed is another small step on the road to independence, because independence is the main aim.
Working parents are often concerned that their little ones may be behind or are missing out because they’re not with them all the time. Worrying wastes time, rather do something together during the time you have together.

A hug a day keeps the doctor away

Hugging your child every day is the best brain booster he can get. Affection triggers happy hormones which tell the brain that all is well – you’re protected and loved now you can relax and learn. A child, whose brain doesn’t receive this message, is constantly and destructively on the move – ready to fight or cower away. Animal studies by Tiffany Field from the Touch Research Institutes, showed that mice whose moms licked them often, grew better physically and their brains grew more too. Mouse licking can be likened to hugging in humans.

Set boundaries

Many people confuse discipline with punishment. Discipline means you teach your child how to be safe and how to behave. A child isn’t born with a rulebook in his head, he needs you to teach him how to behave like a person – how to sit and to walk; how to eat and to wash and dress himself; how to wait and to share; how to speak and say please and thank you.
Teaching your child how to be safe and how to behave also means you have to say no. This is tricky for busy parents because they often feel they have so little time together that they don’t want to fight during that time. However, a parent who only says yes could be raising an unpopular and spoilt brat that nobody wants to play with or invite to their homes. Contrary to popular belief, saying no isn’t damaging to a child’s self-esteem. ‘No’ and ‘stop’ builds self-esteem because it gives a child a safe space in which to discover and learn to make friends. It develops their confidence to know what is okay and what isn’t. Learning the meaning of the words no and stop is a good way to prevent hyperactivity. But be careful of staying no to everything, rather choose your battles.

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Touch and name

Talk to your child. Tell him what you’re doing and name everything you touch. Take his hand and let him touch and name it again. The sooner a child learns that things have names, his brain development takes a leap. Language is the tool of thought. Without language, thinking and learning is very difficult. Think ahead. Think of which school you’d like to send your child to and think of how to teach your child the language they speak at that school. Remember – mother tongue is always the language of your child’s heart. To teach a child a language is to include a child in a culture. Do not neglect your mother tongue.

Choose a good school

Choosing the right school for your child isn’t always easy. The best school is the one that values the same things as you do. Find a preschool where the children are happy and the art on the walls is clearly the children’s own work. Choose a school where they speak the same language as the primary school your child is going to. Make sure they don’t teach reading and writing before grade 1, if they do, they neglect teaching the important skills your child needs before reading and writing with ease in grade 1. Make sure the TV isn’t on all the time and that the teachers are ready with a smile and a hug every morning.