From birth to the age of five years is a very important period in the development of the emotional life of the child.
The feelings of the young child are very intense, his affection very strong, his need of the love and care of parents and others very great. He has neither the experience nor the knowledge to help himself to control his feelings.
He is subject to acute fears – fears of animals, of people, of noises, of the dark and so on. He may wake up or partly wake up screaming with terror without any understandable cause.
He may suffer from a breakdown in habits of cleanliness when there is an upset in the home or some change in the surroundings or routine, or when a new baby arrives or some loved person is removed.
The young child tries to make his many needs known to those about him, but so often they do not understand, and he finds it hard to hold his own among those who are bigger and stronger than himself.
It is well for every one who has the care of young children to realize that behavior problems due to some emotional experience through which the child is passing are bound to occur and that they should be treated with patience, consideration and sympathetic understanding.
Helpful Hints For Parents
An infant is very sensitive to his mother’s state of mind. If she is calm, possesses self-control and handles her baby with patience, understanding and wisely-directed affection, he is likely to develop a feeling of confidence and contentment and a stable disposition.
One person in the home should be responsible for the child’s up bringing, if possible the mother, if both parents are at home they should agree on the methods employed.
Avoid discussing the child in his presence. To retail his funny sayings and doings only makes him self-conscious, unnatural and less straightforward in his behavior.
A mother should avoid trying to keep her child’s affection to herself otherwise she will not only make a rod for her own back, but she will retard the child’s healthy development. The child should learn to care for others and enjoy their company.
Prepare the children, particularly the youngest child, for the coming of the new baby by trying to interest them in babies and telling them how nice it would be to have a baby of their own.
It is extremely upsetting for an 18 months old toddler who has had all the attention to see a little stranger taking his place in his mother’s arms.
The jealousy of a little child should not be merely considered amusing, for it may have very harmful effects on the development of his character. Therefore give the toddler a fair share, of your consideration and attention and teach him to help to care for the new baby.
Avoid saying or doing things which you do not wish your children to say or do. Children are clever imitators.
Train the child to share with others, to give daddy or his brother or sister a portion of what he has, but do not expect too much of him in this way until he reaches the age of three or four years.
Avoid “tricking” a child into doing what he is told to take a spoonful of jam when you know he will dislike the taste of the medicine in it. Still more do not promise him some treat, which you have no intention of giving him. Above all be truthful, otherwise you cannot expect your child to tell the truth.
Guiding Young Children’s Positive Behaviors
Do not frighten a child into obeying you, particularly by threatening him with nasty medicine, with a visit to the doctor or with sending for the police.
Consider carefully the kind of things you ask your child to do or not to do. For example it would be unreasonable to expect a young child to keep still. If he is doing things you do not want him to do you should provide some other form of occupation.
Avoid frustrating him at every turn by continually saying “don’t.” Once you have decided that your request is reasonable let the child understand that you mean what you say and expect obedience.
Encourage a toddler to do things for himself, for it is in this way that he learns and becomes independent. This often requires time and patience on your part.
Be ready to give assistance when he requires it and refrain from saying: “I knew you couldn’t” which only tends to make him lose confidence in himself.
Encourage a child to face difficulties and difficult situations. For example, if you have arranged with him to perform an unpleasant task or to keep an unpleasant appointment, and when the time approaches, he complains that he is not feeling well and you know that he is not really ill, treat him sympathetically by telling him that you are sorry but the task must be carried out or the appointment kept.
By all means give him all the assistance and reassurance he needs. In this way you will be helping him to develop courage.
If you have cultivated a spirit of comradeship with your children you will find them easier to understand and manage.