I’ve had an interesting year, due to adopting not one but two babies, and I’d like to describe some of the ways that I’ve witnessed how growth is observed and can be encouraged in children, but particularly in times of uncertainty for children who find themselves in a totally different set of circumstances.
For my boys, who are now nineteen months, they were only seven months old and so were at the time of optimal plasticity in terms of growth potential. I believe that most children can flourish in whatever plant pot or family they are given if certain conditions are met to assist this. It’s very much like gardening really and so when you think of someone becoming potbound and needing to push for growth with more room, this is similar, in the sense that you mindfully attempt to set the scene or decorate the pot that you are putting them into.
Five things that lead to Growth conditions and flourishing potential in the young child
The five things that I have found help this the most are as follows:
- Give them consistency, even if it doesn’t appear to affect them, just give them that anyway and eventually you will see that it is a nutrient for growth which gives them more security than you would ever give credit for. This becomes crucial for children who have experienced any kind of upheaval, whether through divorce, separation, illness or any other cause. Even if they don’t seem to understand, tell them what you are doing, where you are going and set routines that they can stick to, because when you know where you are, you are not lost.
- Fake it till you make it. Love that is, because whoever you are and however much love you have to give, it too has to grow. So if you just automatically treat them like you have love for them in the case of adoption or even newborns, one day they will do something which will floor you with the love you feel. That’s the AHA moment, cherish it. If you do this, it will come.
- Always see them through a lens of compassion when the times get tough. This isn’t something you need do all the time, usually, just be you. But when the times get hard, and they will on occasion, get that lens out and look through it, because you can guarantee that unless you adopt a new born baby, and even then they have had nine months of someone else, then they will have breaks that need to heal. Compassion is the only way to get through that and not lose it. This goes for parenting across the spectrum too.
- Nurture and recognise who they are, their authentic self, and you will help them to just be them. As adults, many of our insecurities come from others not accepting us as we are, both in childhood and otherwise. If more us of generally recognised when we aren’t able to accept people as they are, society at large would be better for it, it’s that big. So unconditional regard is a must on the menu, because there will be times when to hold that space is your biggest challenge.
- Do not sweat the small stuff! If I get through the day and have ticked off the main things from my list such as feeding, caring for and any other need they have, I can add to that list the things that really don’t matter because they can be as important. I like to ask myself if it will matter tomorrow, because the ‘will it matter in six months’ adage is way too far in the future with little people. When we get caught up in the small stuff and magnify that, we do ourselves and the children we care for a disservice. This then leaves more time for the fun stuff, which is much better.
Joy and savouring
Finally, always savour, find time for the joy and let them learn from you how to have fun, because Joy is the one thing they may have been lacking, and is one of the biggest factors for growth and flourishing that I have ever encountered. When my babies have full on belly laugh mirth and I see the joy on their faces nothing, and I mean nothing, matters. We can truly learn a lot from children about the important stuff such as Joy and the surprisingly small things that can induce it.
About the author: To find out more about Caralyn Cox, click here.