As your baby grows, you start to teach him the alphabet by reciting its letters to him. Before you know it, he’ll be saying a few words, then stringing sentences together. But long before your baby starts to speak, you’re already teaching him all about language.
You’ll also be teaching him about emotions and how to express those: The way you always mumble under your breath when the house is a mess, or when you let out a curse word when you spill gravy on your top.
While you feed his Intelligence Quotient (IQ), it’s also important to nurture junior’s Emotional Quotient (EQ) in order to raise a confident, mature adult. Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, notes that a child with EQ has skills to deal with emotional stresses, challenges in life, as well as show empathy towards another person’s situation. So, here are the 7 Most Valued Values…
When you raise your child in a trusting environment that provides comfort, safety and security, you’re showing him how to develop such relationships, Koh notes. So, gestures like sticking to your word and listening to your tot will develop his trust and, therefore, his confidence. Koh adds, “Model trusting behaviour and believe your child.” Once he’s learnt to trust you, he’ll be able to trust his surroundings and respond in a positive manner.
“If you shield your child from disappointments, he’ll keep repeating the same mistakes.”
If your tot is at least 18 months, you’ll be familiar with his constant “why” questions — “Why do I have to wear shoes?” and after you answer, he’ll probably ask, “But why is the floor dirty? What makes it dirty?” and so on. Notes Joanne Mallon, who wrote Toddlers: An Instruction Manual ($21.99, from www. bookdepository.com), “It can be tedious when your child asks ‘why’ for the billionth time. But this is how he explores the world.” Encourage his exploratory streak by not only answering him, but taking an interest in whatever he’s fascinated with. “The best way to encourage a sense of adventure in your child is to have one yourself,” Mallon advises.
Your tot’s whole life has been about him — his mealtimes and toys, so it can be hard for him to empathise when another toddler is crying for the same thing. “Empathy is tough for a toddler, since he is hard-wired to see himself as the centre of his world,” Mallon says. “But if you show empathetic behaviour, he will eventually understand.” Guide him on ways to express what he feels, such as, “I am upset because Adrian took my toy.” Then ask him how he can move past his negative feelings to feel better. Once he’s done this enough times, he’ll be better able to empathise.
If you take the time to hear your tot out, he’ll reciprocate and grow to be an active listener in turn. Make your child feel like what he has to say is important, so kneel down to his level and tilt your head as if you’re pondering his words. Ask specific questions like, “What exactly about that did you not like?” Or if you’re busy, make sure to let him know, “I’ll talk to you right after I put this away,” then make sure you follow up later with an “I remember you wanted to tell me something when I was busy…”
This is the quality of experiencing the present moment fully. “It’s where our inner and outer worlds exist in this one moment,” explains Mahima Gupta Didwania, a clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist at Lodestar Within. She explains that instead of living life on auto-pilot, pause a moment to experience, appreciate and live in it. For instance, get your tot to place his hand on his tummy and observe how his tummy moves with each breath, or ask him to describe how it feels when he walks barefoot on grass.
“Growing up has become synonymous with doing more,” Didwania notes. “But then, we realise that something is amiss in our bucket of achievements and we try to find peace, and unfortunately, end up doing even more things to fill this hole.” Make sure you, yourself, take time to notice the sound of the shower or what the water droplets look like when your tot “helps” water your plants. “The most important aspect of raising mindful toddlers is to walk the talk yourself,” Didwania says.
“Children who are kind…find it easier to make friends.”
As a parent, while it’s natural for you to try and protect junior from disappointments, you’re actually robbing him of vital life skills like coping mechanisms, emotional resilience and the ability to solve problems. Koh points out, “If you shield your child from disappointments, he’ll keep repeating the same mistakes.” Help your child by praising his efforts and keep him focused on analysing the situation, instead of resorting to self-criticism, he suggests. Once he’s more positive about the setback, boost his determination and motivate him. You’ll be showing your little one that failure offers a valuable opportunity to learn.
Children learn from their parents’ behaviour as they aren’t born with the ability to tell right from wrong. Bernadette Russell, author of Do Nice Be Kind Spread Happy — Acts of Kindness for Kids ($18.26, from www.bookdepository.com) says, “Learning to be kind and understanding makes children happier.” She adds, “Children who are kind also find it easier to make friends.”
Russell suggests letting toddlers play a game called “This is my Friend”. Pair the kids up and help each name as many brilliant things about their friend or sibling as they can — it’ll make both children feel good.