How to Support the Development of Your Children
When you become a parent, everything in your life changes. You are now responsible for the care and well-being of another person, and that person is entirely dependent on you for their survival. This can be the most intimidating aspect of being a parent. How in the world are you supposed to raise this child to be happy, healthy, and eventually independent?
It is a question that every parent probably wrestles with at some point. The biggest questions may be surrounding the topic of child development. From their first breath to the day they move out of the house, they are on a growth track. It can be easy to stress over whether or not your child is hitting milestones at a normal pace, though every parent should understand those numbers can vary wildly and still be perfectly normal.
There are many ways that you can support the development of your child from birth through to their teenage years that will set them up to lead happy and healthy lives. Here are a few ideas to try out if you are worried about what to do to support them.
Maintain Healthy Relationships
Children who grow up in loving homes with parents that care for and support each other have a head start with their development. Even infants can pick up on subtle clues about whether or not they are in a strained or stressful environment, and this can affect how they develop emotions and other social skills. When you become a parent and have a partner or spouse, you need to invest heavily into that relationship. The more you care for each other, the more that child will see a healthy relationship and feel safe, which is a crucial piece of their ability to develop.
You can also foster this family connection with quality time together. Consider adding a game night to your weekly routine or a set time of day where everyone sits down together to enjoy each other’s company.
Encourage and Participate in Physical Activity
Physical activity is needed for child development for many reasons. For one thing, it can help them be physically healthy and fit. Though you should not push them too hard, exercise should be a part of their routines. As a newborn, exercise takes the form of tummy time. As a young child, it could be running around the yard. For a teenager, it may be participation in school sports. When your child is younger, your participation in the activity with them will encourage the idea in their mind and make them look forward to it.
It’s Never Too Early To Provide a Balanced Diet
The food that children eat is an important aspect of development. Their bodies are growing very quickly, which means there is high demand for the right nutrients. A balanced diet can provide the vitamins and minerals that the human body needs to function and develop. For this reason, you should incorporate healthy eating at a young age. Make sure that you provide meals with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and non-fat dairy.
When your child is a little older, you can always pair vitamin or mineral supplements with their balanced diet to support optimal cellular health. Healthy eating starts in the home, and to give them the best chance of growing quickly, make sure that your pantry and refrigerator are filled with nutritious foods.
Don’t Pressure Them into Reaching Milestones
It is almost impossible as a parent to never worry about the development of your child. Are they taking too long to start walking? When should they be able to speak in sentences? Why is their weight so low? This can cause some parents to pressure their children into reaching these milestones. They might force an infant to attempt crawling for too long and end up exhausting the child. Parents could try extreme measures to get the child to roll over or walk when they haven’t yet. It is important to encourage your child to learn these skills but at their own pace. Always consult a pediatrician about the best ways to foster these developmental stages rather than taking matters into your own hands.
Remember to Value Yourself
All of the suggestions above have to do with behaviors that you should implement with your child. You want to build up the relationship quality of the family to help the child feel safe and free to grow. Participating in physical activity with them will help with fitness and overall well-being. You should be providing healthy food options for better nutrition while not pressuring your child into developmental milestones.
But your wellness matters too. If you are exhausted, drained, or frustrated all the time, the child will not be experiencing your best. Remember to take care of your own needs as well. It is perfectly appropriate to find a babysitter or grandparent to watch them for a while as you relax and take time for yourself. This break can restore the energy you need to continue to be the best parent that you can be. Just know that you are still an individual with needs and you are not solely defined by your status as a mother or father.