You know you are having one of those “agama lizard” moments when you wake up in the morning and feel a gust of pride. The type that makes you shake your head and think “do you know what? …I think I am doing well. I am definitely on the right track! ”. While I do not like to be self-indulgent, I still feel everyone should be entitled to one of these moments from time to time. You can call it the spice of life!
Yes! So as I was telling you, I felt ”agamalized” one morning when amidst my chores- like a million things to do before 9 AM, my 4-year-old walked up to me.
He said “mummy, we have a lot to do today”
“Do we?” I asked looking puzzled.
“Yes mum”, he continued, spreading his fingers.
“We have to pray, do our Bible story, do our learning and then play!” he exclaimed.
I could feel my heart bursting with pride as he counted the list of activities on his fingers. It was to him the perfect to-do list that had to kick-start his little morning. As every mom knows, it is difficult to establish routine let alone have your child request that you remember not to spoil his morning by following another pattern.
A routine is a pattern formed by performing an activity on a fairly regular basis. For a child, it is best achieved by repeating the same activity consistently. Consistency ensures that the child gradually learns, appreciates and embraces unconsciously the importance of the activities set out daily. I find this to be very important especially in homes that experience unavoidable disruptions.
In the eyes of a child, it becomes also, a chance to spend quality time with the parent. You can call it a bonding time. It is also a nice way to create some stability for the child. By looking forward to the activity, there becomes a certainty attached to the occurrence of the activity (once established with consistency and patience) that creates this stability for the child. Ultimately children gradually learn to see routines as moments to look forward to getting your undiluted and undivided attention for a few minutes or hours every day. While we cannot ever have complete control over every aspect of our lives, we can at least control the fun we create and subsequently enjoy with our children. Some of the activities we choose can involve the rest of the family too.
For example in my home during prayers we each take turns. This turn taking allows each person to freely express their requests to God however insignificant. The aim of this activity is not only to encourage the praying habit (which is not a bad idea) but the consistency created by the need to pray (at set times) gives the kids something to look forward to as the time approaches. Expressing their prayers in their own words, means we as parents, become presented with a chance to also indirectly teach them how to use their words. The praying exercise for example began with few words being mumbled by my boy. However, in no time, litanies of requests began to stream in (as his language and speech use improved). This improvement in my opinion was encouraged by consistency, patience and encouragement. My boy once expressed perfectly his need for God to provide breadcrumbs for the birds in the park.
Any form of time you share with your child, in the same way, can become an indirect way for you to help the child develop any of their early learning skills. Take reading skills for example. If you relax and enjoy simple stories with your child, s/he will learn to read by merely listening and copying you. This helps reduce the anxiety that children tend to feel when they are being taught. You can make it into a game and reading can become fun. Writing can similarly be developed by scribbling, colouring. Picking beads, threading games and so on help encourage motor skills that strengthen the hands for writing. As long as these are done consistently and patiently, your child can simply enjoy the fun. .
Spending time with your child ensures that you also get a chance without even realising it to model good behaviour to that child. Children tend to learn by example. Have you noticed that if your kids spend time with the wrong children they tend to imitate wrong behaviours and characters? That’s because children are like blank slates. They are really innocent so they tend to be like the person or people they spend the most time with. Unfortunately, bad habits die hard so it is really important for our children that we spend as much time as possible with them.
Simple activities like banging pots, pans, scribbling on paper, chopping up newspapers, messing about with noisy bags and so on can be very exciting for kids. Many parents find that even when they buy the most expensive toys for their children they still end up playing and having the most fun with basic things around the home .You don’t need to spend a fortune on high-tech toys especially if you cannot afford them to make your child happy. All that children really want at the end of the day is simply our attention.
It is important to note after making this point that a balance must be struck between giving the child attention and indulging or fussing over the child. Remember we said earlier that the whole point is that the child needs to spend quality time with you. It is easy to fall into the trap of overindulging them. We must also know when to ignore naughty attention-seeking behaviour while constantly acknowledging good behaviour. If we keep telling them off even when they do the slightest thing it may be counter-productive.
It is always worth remembering that all our children want is to get our attention – positive or negative. It is quite easy to unknowingly make mountains out of molehills when children reject their meals (which is quite typical of most toddlers). The thing to realise is the fact that to your child, they finally have your attention! What better way to get it than by winding you up?
It really does take time, practice as well as consistency to master all the skills required to be super parents! I wish I was one myself then perhaps my life would be easier?
Please share with us some of your Agama moments. Our children are sweet in their own ways tell us about some of those. You deserve to be proud!
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