Children are motivated to learn about themselves, others, and the world in which they live (Wittmer & Petersen 2010).
Have you ever watched a newborn infant learn? They accidentally pass their hand in front of their face and you can just see the look of surprise and imagine what they might be thinking. “What was that? Where did it go? When is it coming back? Oh, there it is again!” Of course, at that age, they haven’t learned much language yet, but that is what they would say if they could verbalize. Give them a few weeks and they will have learned to hold their hand in front of their face and can watch as they wiggle their fingers. They are so easily fascinated (says the parent who watches by the hour, totally fascinated.)
Babies have a great desire to learn and they are always on the move. They want to talk and walk, to make things shake, rattle, and roll. They want to do things for themselves. They want to copy what they see others doing. They are curious about everything and even set goals for themselves, such as getting across the floor to see how that dog food tastes. They develop strategies and test them out, finding what works best to accomplish those goals.
Our children also look to us to give them feedback and encouragement. They will look at us to see us clap and smile, and then learn to do so in return. They love to copy the expressions that they see and the sounds that they hear. They count on us to be there to keep them safe as they explore this big new world. As they advance through each stage, they constantly turn as if to say, “Look at me! I can do it myself!” Wow! You certainly can. Good for you!
We don’t have to buy expensive toys or the latest gadgets to help our children to learn.
We just have to
- provide them with a few basic toys and household items let them explore; and
- read to them every day which helps strengthen your relationship with your child, helps them with basic language skills and helps prepare them for academic success.
Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: http://www.education.com/reference/article/core-concepts- prenatal-infant- toddler/
The ability to self-regulate is the backdrop of capabilities that allow the child to concentrate on a task, focus on another person’s feedback in a social situation, and control emotions in positive ways (Bronson, 2000a, 2000b; Kopp, 2000).
Just what is self-regulation?
As an infant grows, they begin to recognize things about themselves – when they are sleepy, when they are hungry, when they need to go to the bathroom, or when something makes them upset. Children begin to learn independence and also to learn to self-regulate or control their physical bodies, as well as their thoughts and emotions.
As a parent, I was very excited to watch my children do many “firsts” – first steps, first time feeding themselves, first time using the bathroom, and first words. These are examples of physical growth and regulation. I never thought much about the fact that they were also learning emotional growth and regulation.
Children need to learn
- to wait,
- to think before acting,
- to recognize consequences,
- to think of the needs of others and cooperate with others, and
- to model appropriate social behavior.
Children who do not self-regulate are difficult to be around.
They whine, demand & insist on getting their own way. They refuse to share, or take turns, or listen to advice from anyone. They have a difficult time finding or and maintaining friends. They are impulsive, acting without thinking, and frequently causing harm to themselves or others because they lack the ability to see identify cause and effect. Control is also related to obesity. For some children, a lack of self-control can manifest itself as over-eating and evetually obesity. However, obesity can also be the result of a child exercising self-control in an unhealthy way. For example, abused children (especialy sexually abused children) will often put on weight to make themselves appear less attractive or because eating is the only thing they think they can control. In the latter case, this type of self-control can also lead to anorexia or bulimia because the child may feel, “Since I can’t control anything else in my life or how I’m treated, at least I can control what and how much I eat.”
Advances in motor skills make it possible for preschoolers to feed themselves when they are hungry and put on a sweater when they are cold. Cognitive and emotional maturity signals a greater ability to delay gratification, to sit still and read a book, and to cope with the stresses of separation or loss. Development may be viewed as the child’s ability to function more independently in personal and social contexts (Bronson, 2000; Kopp, 2000; Sameroff, 1989; Sroufe and Waters, 1977).
As children mature, their capacity to exert their own autonomous control is essential and must be directed and encouraged by parents so self-control can be developed in a healthful manner.
In other words, do what you can as parents to – help your child to grow up!
For more information:
Shonkoff, J. P., Phillips, D. A., & National Research Council (U.S.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early child development. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.
Wittmer, D.S. & Petersen S.H. (2010) Core concepts of prenatal, infant, and toddler development. Retrieved from: http://www.education.com/reference/article/core- concepts-prenatal-infant-toddler/