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CHILD DEVELOPMENT – What do our kids need most?

Child development is on every parent’s mind, we have a bit of anxiety around how our child is going to progress. So the best and only thing we can do is support them through these early years of development. Children themselves need that internal motivation and we as carers, educators and parents are here to support and encourage that when and where we can. A simple way to look at childhood motivation is through Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a theory of human motivation based on our basic, psychological and self fulfillment needs. There are 5 levels to this theory as stated below.

–       Physiological needs (food, water etc)

–       Safety needs (security & safety)

–       Belongingness & love (social interactions, friends and relationships)

–       Esteem (feelings of accomplishment)

–       Self actualization (achieving full potential)

Which is all well and good but really it comes down to the carers and parents and what they can provide for children around these needs to promote motivation and development. So the role of the carer, parent and educators can be broken down into providing:

–    Healthy Lifestyle of nutritious food and exercise habits

–       Security & nurturing environment

–       Love and social opportunities

–       Recognition & encouragement

–       Appropriately providing and supporting through challenges

Healthy Lifestyle

The best way for us to educate our children on a healthy lifestyle is to live one ourselves. We are our children’s role models, as parents we know that children want to do what we are doing, eat what we are eating and have what we have. For instance, for Christmas we bought our son an ikea kitchen so he can cook and we are on the hunt for a mower, he has his own broom, rake and spade, he has his own car. So it really isn’t complicated and what is good for them is good for you and vice versa.

Security & nurturing 

Nurturing our children is caring for them, bonding with them and protecting them. This in turn will provide them with security. This starts from a very young age in our bonding moments. Traditionally this connection was seen to be an attachment to one’s mother. Research presented by Michael Rutter (1981) suggests that without this attachment a child will become clingy, dependent and display attention seeking behaviors and will mature with an inability to keep rules and form close relationships. This comes naturally to most parents and is fairly self explanatory but way to bolster nurturing could be through being fully present in your interactions, providing encouragement, validating their feelings and playing games with them.

Love and social belonging

Providing social opportunities for children is vital in their development. From the age of 6 months kids are ready to learn social boundaries, they learn how to share space and that their actions have consequences.  Creating new opportunities to experience relationships, socializing, movement and learning will do wonders for their confidence. When children explore new experiences they engage with what they are doing, when they are engaged they learn. Hello all areas of development. So get exploring physically, socially and intellectually with other mums n bubs, play groups and sports even before kindy and watch them progress!

Recognition

A little bit of praise goes a long way when it comes to children. Even within a group setting or family, appropriately praising the child that is doing the right thing rather than focusing on the one that isn’t can have an amazing flow on effect. This gives them incentives and confidence to cope with any challenges that might arise.

Challenge

Cooperation over competition. Our role as the adults is to structure the environment and provide challenging tasks according to child’s interest and ability level. If a child is struggling with motivation around an activity try connecting it to their interests and likes so that they can relate and make it more interesting for them. If they can relate and enjoy what they are doing, they are much more likely to overcome challenges around it.

 

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