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What Role Do Families Play In Early Childhood Environment?

What role do families play in early childhood development? In the environment where children learn and grow? A vital one. In fact, a lot of parents a lot of lawmakers, a lot of educators may not fully appreciate the great impact that the family can have in the life of the child and how vital it is for the health and strength, and success in every area for that child. Some people might be a little offended by what I'm going to share in this article. 

But as the president of the worldwide organization for women and a person who fights regularly to protect parental rights, to protect children from things like sexualization and stuff like that, I can honestly tell you the family is the first social unit of society that any personal experiences. 

It is the most important for every human to succeed in family life because there is overwhelming proof that children who do well in home life, who are valued in their families have greater gains in everything else they pursue. 

Whether it's personal, business, or academic in their future lives. In this article, I'm going to share a personal story about a doctor's office. And then five ways that you can strengthen your family and your children and your environment so that your children have greater happiness and success in their futures. 

One time while waiting in a doctor's office with my fourth child, I happen to look at the magazines that were out for display so that people don't get bored I picked up one of the magazines and was flipping through it and noticed an article titled something like "You better teach your child everything they need to know by age 5." And I thought, "Whoa! That's overwhelming. 

Why would a parent have to teach a child everything they want them to know by age 5? What happens with the rest of the child's life?" Well anyway, as I started reading over this article because it caught my attention. I was saddened. Said that according to studies, after age 5, children stopped thinking of their parents as the coolest people they know. 

They stopped thinking of their parent's opinions as relevant. And I started wondering why that would be. Why would children starting at age 5 start to disregard their parents? I've studied a lot about childhood development. A LOT. And I wondered, "Is that a true developmental thing? Or could there be something else going on here that people aren't recognizing as to why the child would learn or choose not to value their parents as much starting at age 5?" 

So, I thought of my own children I had a 9-year old, a 7-year old, a 3-year old and a baby. And all of my children thought I was cool. And that wasn't just in my head either. They actually thought that I was cool. In fact, just the day before I read that article, my 9-year-old son said, "Mom, you are the smartest person that I know." And I felt like that was pretty awesome. But he knew he could come to me and we could learn together. 

Now, there's something special about my family. Something that some people may even think is a little weird about my family. And that is that we homeschool. So, I know some people probably want to turn this off right like, "Oh, great. Another one of those crazy homeschool homemaker ladies who want to teach us how to cook a casserole." Nope, but still, I do homeschool. And I have to be honest about that. That decision has changed the trajectory of my life and my family's life for the better, actually. 

One of those things that changed for the better was that my children valued me for a very long time. Now of course, developmentally children hit a point where they pull away from their parents a little bit. And they start to branch out and prepare to launch from the home. But that is not a developmental thing for age 5. So, what can we do to make sure that those young years, that early childhood time is turned more toward home and family? And less towards society, friends, and educational models. 

That's what we need to do. Statistics studies have proven that families give the greatest gains to children. That's how we stop them from teen drinking. --Creating good relationships, right? And it starts when they're young. One of my passions is learning which is why I chose to home-school my children. 

But as I studied how people learn, I realized that developmentally what's required for small children is actually less social time outside of the family and more social time inside of the family. I sure messed this up with my oldest child. You know they call that first child the Pancake child for a reason. Gets a little burnt on the edges, a little pudding on the inside. 

Tell you to get the heat just right for the next ones that are coming along. I did some things to him that really changed the way he turned out. He started playgroups when he was 18 months and 2 years old with all these other children in the neighborhood and with our church group. He started watching television shows, Barney and Dragon Tales and Pooh Bear. And I thought that was fine because they were educational,l they were good, clean, wholesome. 

No, those were poor substitutes for what he really needed. He needed to be by my side almost all the time. Now, I know sometimes parents have to go on a date. Maybe they have some commitment or appointment they have to meet. And maybe Grandma or a sibling or a trusted friend is going to stay with the children for a little bit. But hopefully, that's the exception and not the rule. 

Hopefully, your children, especially children under age 4. 4, and under are with you almost all the time. If you've got a folding laundry, you teach them. My children knew how to fold their laundry and put it away at age 3. People wonder, "How do you get your children to do their laundry?" Do laundry with them. That's what you do. 

This is what I did. Anyway, so you keep them with you, they're your companion. You play together, you learn together, you work together. That is the most developmentally sound thing that you can do for children in those young learning years. So, now let's get into those 5 ways for how you can help your children have future happiness and success. 

Way Number 1: Emotional Development

Are you aware that you are part, a huge part of the emotional development of your child? You give them security. That's one of the key outcomes of proper emotional development. And they find the greatest security by maintaining closeness to you. 

Children who spend the majority of time with their parents throughout the day usually experience less stress and anxiety. Now, all children have anxiety. And when they're little. They even have more anxiety usually than when they're older. 

But they have less when they have the security that comes from that bond with mom and dad. And do you know what that means? When a child is less stressed, less anxious; they often sleep better, eat better, play better and just bond more. Another positive effect of this closeness with the parents is that children usually adapt better to change. 

They're also more content. The emotional strain of parents directly translates to the emotional development and strength of children. So, if children are part of a family where parents calmly talk about their problems instead of emotionally reacting, then the children start to see the world through the lens of confidence, problem-solving, possibilities. They don't feel like they need to worry. How much are you worrying? You need to assess that. 

Because you might have to work some on your own emotional development. Confident, secure children usually become very powerful people. And this is about what you're hoping for all the way along. You see something in that child. You know they're supposed to have some sort of great impact on this world that they live in. 

They can't be stuck in emotional bondage then. There's a difference between emotional bondage and emotional strength. What is emotional bondage look like? It looks like every time I feel something, I have to tell somebody about it. It looks like my emotions are going to control all my actions and I feel validated in that. But what's emotional strength? Emotional strength is, "Wait, I'm feeling something. 

What is that? Why am I feeling that? Is that the truth? What is the truth? What action should I take? What direction do I want to go?" A person who has emotional intelligence knows how to analyze the emotions that are taught by parents and by calm deliberate teaching and correcting of the children. 

Way Number 2: Cognitive Abilities

That means how the person can think and problem-solve. This is developed a lot during the young years. In fact, before the ages of 5, well we should say up until 5. Maybe even slightly into age 6, we know enough about the brain now that we know there are so many synapses that are formed in the child's brain. It's amazing. During those ages, up until age 5, that's the time when every person has more synapses than they ever have at any other time in their life. In fact, they can learn almost anything. 

That's why if you want your child to learn another language, it's way better to teach them from the time they're a baby all the way up to age 5 they'll never forget it then. But if you have a little synapse that's there that's forming but you don't nurture it and you don't use it, then over time, your brain prunes it out. That's what it's called, pruning. Our children learn and grow so much during the time between birth and age 5. 

Those early childhood years. So, we have to keep in mind that they need a teacher with them all the time to help them with those cognitive learning activities that they crave so much. That's the thing. You know they ask you those questions in the car like, "Mom why is the sky blue?" And you're like, "Well, let's see. 

There space and the atmosphere and the..." And you're like thinking they'll never get this. But they're still thinking with you. They're sitting there going, "Atmosphere? What's the atmosphere?" That's the age of a million questions. And some parents maybe don't have the patience for it. 

But if you answer those questions, you are doing your child a great service. And if you feel like you can't answer every one of the questions all the time, have them be a partner with an older sibling for a little bit who can maybe answer some of those questions. 

But I would encourage them. I told my children when they were a little the answers to everything, the real answers to everything they asked that were developmentally appropriate for them of course. And during those years, the whole world opened up. 

My children were reading by the time they were 3 years old because they wanted to. Because they could. They learned to read in 40 minutes. It was amazing. That's what the brain is capable of. Now, of course, each child is individual. And not all children are ready to read that could stress them out at that time. But their cognitive abilities need to be nurtured. 

Way Number 3: Point The Direction

What does that mean? That means establish priorities. Where are you going? Who are you becoming? What's more important? As a parent, are you teaching your child that stuff is more important? Or are you teaching them that relationships are more important? I hope it's the relationship. When the family functions properly, children know who they are. 

They know where they're going in life. Pointing the direction means establishing identity, roles, purpose. To do this, parents have to understand what their role is. And what I found over the years as a parenting expert, some parents go back and forth between thinking the child needs to make decisions, the parent needs to be in control. 

Oftentimes, they're giving up their parental authority and they don't even know it. Many parents are passive. And they're not trying to be. They want to be principled. They want to be a little bit more assertive in their parenting. But they sometimes fail. Because they haven't solidified what their role really is in that family. 

They're just handling things minute by minute. And while that's a great skill to have to be able to adapt and problem-solve in the minute, wise parents who want to maintain good roles and stability in their family so that they can keep the child pointed in the right direction plan ahead for how they're going to handle their problems and for who they're going to be in the lives of their children. 

Your children will become who you train them to be. Do I need to say that again? Your children will become who you train them to be. Sure, they have a choice and all that other kind of stuff. But you are setting the example for what it means to be an adult. To one degree or another, they'll become you. And you know that because there are things about your parents that you're still trying to shed. So, let's be the best version of ourselves. 

Way Number 4: Social Development

That will help us point the direction for our children. That will help us teach them the role that they're going toward and embrace the rule they have. This brings us to the fourth way that we help our children develop during their young years. And that is to set the example for them by establishing proper social development. The family is the first social unit that a person is ever part of. 

So, we've got to take that seriously. What type of social training is happening in our home? Is problem-solving happening effectively? Is the communication steady, uplifting, unifying, and effective? If our children don't learn how to be social from us, they'll learn social from the media. They'll learn social from same-age peers. 

Who do you trust to help your child develop socially? Parents who recognize that they are the best social teacher for their children usually turn out the most confident socially strong adults that are ready for leadership. They can lead the next generation if they are the ones who know how to communicate with others and control themselves in a group. 

What examples do we set? Did you know the way that you communicate with your spouse will teach your child how to communicate with their friends? It does. It's social development. Your communication, your problem-solving abilities are key to their future and their development right now when they're young years. 

Another thing about social development that people don't often realize is your attitude. Did you know your attitude is part of your social development? Are you optimistic? Pessimistic? Do you make excuses? Did you know that if you are an optimistic person, your child has a greater chance at a happy life? That's social development. 

Way Number 5: Moral Development. 

When children are young, they want to laugh since sing and play and have fun and tell jokes. You know those jokes. You have to hear in the car that doesn't make any sense? This is part of being young. But did you know that all of this searching for fun and joy and happiness isn't really as much about being entertained when they're that young? As it is about finding what is morally good. 

They are obsessed in their little hearts and brains with what is good and what is bad and what is true and what is false and what is right and what is wrong. They want to know. And that's why they want to hear your stories about your life and about the Three Little Pigs because they want to know the right way. 

People often say "Oh, yeah for children everything's black and white." Yep. It is. So don't make it gray. That brings them all kinds of frustration and confusion. They can't handle gray when they are little children. Wait until they're older to see some of the gray things the well what if this and not everybody's perfect and... No. They need a hero and a villain. 

A good and a bad. That's developmentally what they're craving, what they're looking for, and what parents need to deliver. This is why parents read their children's stories that have morals at the end. This is why that Aesop is still one of the most purchased and sought-after children's literature pieces of all time. 

Because there's a moral there because there's a bad and a good a right and a wrong. And there's a lesson to be learned. They want to learn all of those lessons. So, don't skimp. Don't feel like you're being preachy. You're giving them exactly what they want. And if the story makes them laugh sometimes, all the better. 

Because children are so morally aware especially in those young years, that is all the more reason but we have got to be picky about what we will show them and what we won't show them. Do you realize that if you sit in front of a program that has say maybe bullying or attitude problems or some sexual content, you may think to yourself, "Oh, they don't get this? They don't really understand." You might be more wrong than you realize. 

What you're doing is you're endorsing that behavior. If you sit there with a child during something like that and you don't call it out and you don't discuss it, whether it's life or on a screen, you are saying to the child, "That is okay. That is good behavior." 

So, when your child starts talking to you about an attitude problem, it could be because you've never discussed it. Because you've never corrected it and said that's the wrong way to talk to people. That's not going to be good. You might have laughed at it so they might think it's good. 

Because funny is good when you're in those young years. Be picky. Even if it's PG that doesn't mean it's safe. We preview in our family all the movies that our children are going to watch until they get to a really good age of discernment. 

When children are young in their young early learning years, they don't have good discernment. we're establishing that foundation for what is good, bad, right, wrong, true, false. You have to be the one that teaches them discernment by pointing out all of those lessons to that. To teach your children all of these 5 different ways, to point the direction, to have good emotional development, moral development, cognitive abilities; you've got to have a good relationship with them. If you don't have a good relationship with your child, all of the teachings get wasted. 

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