CREATING A NURTURING HOME ENVIRONMENT
NATURE VS NURTURE
There is an age-old debate on whether children develop a certain way because of nature or how they were nurtured. Every child is born with some natural tendencies.
For example: some children are shy while others are very outgoing. Some children can play for extended periods of time and amuse themselves while others get bored and need stimulation very quickly.
We all have different talents and personalities. Your job as a parent is to nurture your child. This means that you will be sensitive to the needs of your child. You have the power to support, encourage and protect your child so they can grow and develop mentally, physically, and socially. A warm nurturing environment will allow your child to feel safe and encourage a healthy self-esteem.
HOW CAN YOU PROVIDE A NURTURING ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR CHILD?
The world can be a very scary place for children today. Every child should feel that their home is a safe place where they are accepted, talked to, listened to, safe and loved for who they are. Let’s examine some things that a nurturing environment should have:
Never compare your child to a sibling or to other children. Accept them for who they are at their individual stage of development. Guide them by giving them the skills they need to develop into healthy adults.
For example: You may need to teach them how to wait their turn, accept “no” for an answer, share, learn responsibility and show respect to others.
With some children you may need a lot more patience than with others, but never make a child feel they are “bad’ because of how they deal with their emotions. Always model the behavior you want the child to learn.
2. TALK TO YOUR CHILD
Communication is so important to children. Talk to your child about what you are doing and why you are doing it. As young as infancy you can start communicating with your child
Look at your child, good eye contact lets them know they are worthy of your attention. Reading to your child helps them learn vocabulary and gives them a sense of warmth and love being close to you.
Using encouraging language will help your child build self-esteem and build trust in your support. Never use discouraging or disrespectful words with your child. Children are very impressionable and will often act on what they feel adults expect of them.
For example: if you tell your child, “You are so clumsy, you spill milk at every meal!” Your child will most likely continue to spill milk at every meal because they believe that they are truly clumsy and cannot hold a cup of milk without spilling. Instead encourage your child by giving them a small amount at a time in their cup. Show them how to use two hands and encourage them to keep trying. Praise the child when they succeed. This type of accepting communication will help develop a healthy sense of self-worth.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD
A nurturing environment is an environment where your child trusts you enough to come to you and share their feelings. This does not come easily to some children, so it is important that you learn to ask questions to encourage the child to share their thoughts with you.
For example, if you ask your child, “Did you have fun at the park today?” Your child may simply answer, “yes”. Instead ask your child, “What made you happy at the park today?” This requires your child to think and answer the question, which can lead to more communication.
Help your child to identify their emotions and feelings. Being able to put a name to how they are feeling enables them to recognize the emotion when it occurs again and know how to handle the emotion.
For example: Your child is crying and says, “I wanted to play with Bobby and he ran away from me.” Let your child know that you understand how he is feeling and what he can do to make it feel better. You can say, “I can see that makes you feel sad. Why don’t you come over here to the sandbox and let’s make a sand pie together.”
4. KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE
Make sure the physical environment is safe from anything that cause your child harm. Check to ensure that you have installed gates at the top and bottom of stairs, fireplaces are blocked, plugs have covers, drugs and chemicals are locked behind child safe cabinets, sharp objects, guns, and tools are safely out of child’s reach. Check your home for any peeling paint and have your child checked for lead paint. Make sure outside play space is free of any trash or objects that can harm the child.
5. LOVE YOUR CHILD
There are many ways to show love to your child. Physically touching your child, hugging, kissing, and cuddling are very important to the child. Eye contact, encouragement, praise and understanding are other ways to show love. Be there to comfort your child when they are hurt or upset. This builds security and trust between you and your child. Set goals for your child and guide and direct them to achieve the goals. A nurturing environment that is filled with love helps your child:
· Learn to show respect to others
· Learn compassion
· Learn acceptance of others
· Builds their self-esteem
When you provide your child with a safe, loving, secure nurturing environment you will be able to watch your child will grow and thrive both physically and mentally.