As a parent, it’s only natural that you’re going to want to give your child the best chance in life. This tends to mean a lot of ruthless researching. We look for the best schools, the best dietary advice, the play activities that are the most stimulating. We gear our child towards things that will be useful, towards education and accomplishments.
It’s not unusual for the average diary of a child to read like one of a high-flying executive, only with a little more emphasis on fun. The schedule can be demanding. Play dates give way into music lessons, with after-school activities being juggled with homework.
Or perhaps all of the above sounds alien to you. You’re one of the new wave of parents, determined to encourage a child to be self-sufficient. Perhaps you didn’t have the greatest childhood yourself, and you’re determined that kids should have a chance to be kids.
There’re raging debates over these different attitudes to parenting, and it’s not one we’re going to get into today. The choice you make is based on what suits you, your family and knowing what your child responds to.
The point is, however, to look at the less conventional benefits that you can look to bring into parenting. Importantly, it doesn’t matter which style you choose- these are things that will benefit all.
Giving the child the best start in life should be a holistic process. Don’t over-focus on one area; instead, look at the whole picture of how a life is formed. There are things you can do here and now that they will reap the benefits for in the moment, not in their working lives. Childhood is a unique time of life and one that you should make the most of. If you’re a little guilty of focusing too much on tomorrow and not enough on today, it’s time to zoom in for awhile. Here’re a few ideas for different aspects to improve upon, for the benefit of all.
To Benefit… Their Whole Life Approach: Teach Them To Garden
You don’t necessarily need a huge space to do it; caring for window-based planters is a good start. Not only is gardening a teaching experience in and of itself, but it also has a myriad of health benefits too. It is believed that microbes found in soil can help fight depression and other mood illnesses. Done right, it can also be relaxing.
It’s also worth considering the impact of caring for something, nurturing it and then seeing the results. It hammers home a lesson about consequences without having to feel like it’s a lesson, as well as emphasising responsibility.
Furthermore, if you do have access to an outdoor space, use it- and don’t bring your shoes. The benefits of barefoot time are well known and can be appreciated by any age group.
To Benefit… Their Internal Health: Air Pollution Damages Children More Than Adults
Picture an adult and a child walking down the street. They’re breathing the same air, so it stands to reason that they are inhaling the same amount of pollutants. Pollutants in the air are estimated to cause up to 5.5 million deaths worldwide every year- and the closer you are to the ground, the more you inhale. Think about it: a child is closer to the exhaust pipes, the source of the damaging emissions. Even encouraging your child to ride a bike more will make a difference, or choose routes that may be longer but are further away from roads. This is especially important if your child suffers from asthma or other lung conditions.
To Benefit… Their Education: Consider Moving Into A New Area
Private schooling may not be an option, and the verdict is out on whether the private system produces better results. The cream always tends to rise to the top. The idea of moving to a better district for schools is not a new one – but how about a whole new country? A few years spent living elsewhere can have a huge contribution to your child’s life experience. The options are literally endless, though English-speaking countries like Australia and Great Britain offer the easiest transition There are plenty of specialist agencies that can help with an intercontinental move and you’ll discover Entwistle Green and similar will prove invaluable advice. If you worry you’ll miss friends and family too much, remember that Skype exists!
To Benefit… Their Skin: Step Away From Lather
Most of us like our soap and shampoo to lather. In fact, it’s become so ingrained in us to associate lather with cleanliness that washing with it seems bizarre. In reality, the lather is pretty much useless- it’s their for our cosmetic needs, not the cleaning ability. It’s generally created using a chemical called sodium lauryl sulphate, or SLS. SLS is not the good guy in this picture. Many people are sensitive to it, leading to rashes, eczema and general discomfort. Worryingly, it’s pretty much in everything, from toothpaste to shampoo. Check labels and avoid it; children’s skin is so sensitive they are even less able to handle it. You also don’t want them to associate bathtime with discomfort.
To Benefit… Their Social and Responsibility Skills: Get A Pet
Many experts on the subject believe pets are beneficial for children, even if it’s just a hamster or a gerbil. It teaches them how to handle other creatures and see to their needs, a skill which helps when dealing with humans too. Up to 90% of children tend to have some form of pet in their childhood and see the benefits for years to come.
If you have family pets, it’s worth looking into a new animal that your child is solely responsible for. Keep it small and simple such as rodents or birds, and make sure you supervise the interaction between pet and child in the initial stages.
When you look at your child’s life in small, bite-size chunks, you will quickly see a pattern developing. You can enrich them on many different bases, helping to lead to developed adults with a rounded perspective on life. But you don’t have to wait 40 years for the results- all of the above will have obvious benefits from the moment you begin.
What ways do you give your little ones the best possible start??