While materialistic expressions of love may abound during the holiday season, a greater sense of regard for intangible life treasures such as health and happiness for the people in your life who matter most is also prevalent.
Still, around this time of year most adults will find themselves expending extraordinary amounts of energy, time and money to achieve a common goal, which is to show someone else that they care. More often than not, children are at the forefront of selfless thoughts, good will and intentions as efforts are primarily focused on bringing joy to young lives.
In many cases, old and new parents alike will attempt the latter through an abundance of gift giving. Hopeful that exaggerated “tokens of gratitude” or “rewards for good behavior” will enhance their ability to show their children just how special and meaningful they are.
Throughout the holidays, the importance of devoting additional energy to ensure that young people feel nurtured, happy and loved is heavily emphasized. Regardless of whether you are a parent, older sibling, aunt, uncle or family friend, it is critical to understand that there are ways to accomplish this important task that do not involve depleting your checking account at the nearest toy store.
The Urban Child Institute is in the process of producing a new parent handbook that can assist all parents and adults with creating positive and memorable experiences for the young children in their lives. These experiences will bring lasting happiness not only in the short term, but for a lifetime.
No matter the parenting style or relation, there are simple concepts adults can incorporate into their interaction with children around the holidays, particularly with newborn babies and infants ages one to three. These concepts will lead to a greater return on investment and prove to be more beneficial long after the holiday magic and wonderment of the season fades into a new year.
According to The Urban Child Institute, during the first three years of life, a child’s ability to form critical skills such as language and literacy, thinking, self-control, and self-confidence is determined. These skills are key aspects of school readiness, which lead to long-term success as an adult.
To ensure that that the young children in your life are receiving gifts that will truly keep on giving, consider implementing the following tactics to help remind you to put their needs first this holiday season and year-round.
Create a safe and caring environment
Promoting healthy brain development begins with setting the tone. Infants raised in a nurturing environment have an easier time learning to express their thoughts and feelings and are more likely to develop a healthy love of learning.
Touch, Talk, Read, Play
When practiced routinely, these activities will help to ensure that you are actively supporting and encouraging a child’s ability to build cognitive and social skills that will carry him or her into and through adulthood.
Eliminate drama and stress
Young children are still developing the tools needed to cope with stress. Early experiences that include exposure to tense or violent circumstances will create toxic stress responses that will harm a child’s overall development.
Learning opportunities and new experiences
During the first three years of life, a baby’s brain is like a sponge. Take advantage of every opportunity to fill it with positive experiences by encouraging exploration, independence, and age-appropriate responsibility.
Use real words when communicating with a child and enthusiastically respond to baby coos and babbles. Toddlers should be encouraged to use words to express feelings and thoughts.
Build self confidence
Support growing self-confidence by allowing a child to act on natural desires to do things “all by myself.”
To begin to encourage their development of self-control, model calm behavior and support continued development by offering acceptable language for self-expression and modeling ways to solve problems without yelling or hitting.
Be a role model
For a complete list of recommendations and to learn more about signs of healthy brain development for children age zero to three, visit www.theurbanchildinstitute.org.