Parents, teachers, grandparents, and child-care givers all want to help children thrive. They can do this job best if they keep in mind what the most important challenges of childhood are all about. Therefore, successful childhood is supported by emphasizing the following four goals:
Relationships: From early on, parents and caregivers need to be affectionate with the kids under their charge. Kids need to bond with adults and then venture out and make friends. Anything adults can do to foster this goal is a good idea!
Healthy self-views: The worst thing you could do is constantly pump kids up and give them the exclusive message that they are wonderful, special, and that they stand at the center of the universe. Nor do kids need to hear criticisms, put-downs, and harsh words.
Children will develop healthy views of themselves when caregivers show them unconditional support and love, tempered with realistic disapproval for inappropriate behaviors. Children need to appreciate their positive qualities while accepting their weaknesses.
Control over impulses and emotions: When kids enter this world they have very little control over their emotions and demand immediate gratification. If they don’t get what they want, they scream and cry. That may be understandable if they’re under the age of 1 or so.
As they grow, kids need to learn how to self-soothe and delay the immediate demand for all needs to be met. So, it’s important to teach kids to wait, have patience, and control the expression of their emotions.
Achieving their potential: The final goal of childhood is to acquire knowledge and skills necessary for independent living. This goal depends somewhat on the genetic and biological potential that kids inherit, but also can be fostered by those who teach and care about them. In order to get there, kids need incentives, motivation, and reasonable expectations set by the adults in their world.