Timeless Parenting Skills: 6 Tips to Help Cultivate & Nurture the Healthy Growth of a Child by Rabbi Simon Jacobson
We all want to bring up the best and happiest children. But ask yourself: what is a child? You cannot determine the happiness of something unless you determine what it is that makes that thing tick. Very often people want the best for their children, but what does the word best mean? Is it the best on your terms or the best on the child’s terms?
The very nature of a child is fundamentally different than that of an adult. Children represent the best version of humanity due to the fact that they are not man made. Like freshly fallen, pure and white snow, a child hasn’t absorbed or been impacted by toxins of the world, whether physically, psychologically, emotionally or spiritually. No adult can come close to this.
Parents must constantly live with the mindset that they are dealing with a pure, fragile, vulnerable, defenseless and innocent child. As adults, we have developed defense mechanisms and armor to protect ourselves from predators, exploiters and a hostile world. Children inherently don’t know such things, but rather learn it from us. And although we wish to protect our children with the proper armor, we must first know what is inside the armor.
So here are some practical ways to properly cultivate, nurture and assist in the healthy growth of a child:
- Recognize the pure soul of a child. The impressions made upon children at their earliest stages of life will remain forever. Just like a warm ball of wax, every experience, for good or bad, will become engraved in this warm wax. As the wax hardens, that experience will also become par and parcel of what was once soft wax.
- Expose your children to beautiful things. Surround your children with pure words, beautiful music, poetry, sensitivity, love and wisdom. The child may not communicate or listen as we do, but everything is entering into their consciousness.
- Define the unique purity of a child. Children are dreamers and instinctively respond to ethereal things. Encourage the child’s ability to dream, imagine, and hope. Reward and incentivize children in ways which allow their minds to dream and imagine.
- Consistency and trust. A child needs security and the guaranteed consistent love of their parents. It is a given for a child that their home is their life. A child in an abusive home won’t walk out of the house because they are unable to see a world outside of the house. The simple act of sleeping in the same bed every night creates security for the child. Inconsistency creates the feeling of fear and of “what’s going to be?”
- Impose your values, not opinions. Not even your values, but rather higher values. Parents often have opinions locked in due to their own insecurities and they will impose them on their children. A child should feel as they grow up that their parents loved them and taught them values by example, but never suffocated them from spreading their wings.
- Reinforce and nurture your child’s uniqueness and independence. Make the following statement every morning and evening with your child: “You are my most precious soul whom was given to me as a gift. I am blessed to be your parent and am here to do whatever it takes to protect, nurture and actualize the uniqueness of your particular soul. You have a unique and irreplaceable mission that is exclusive to you.”
Notice how all of these tips are not about the means. They don’t focus on becoming a great doctor, lawyer or making lots of money. Everything discussed is about the very personality, soul and psyche of the child. We want the end product to be a confident, secure and trusting child that can take on life and every challenge.
This also serves as an opportunity of rebirth and second attempt for the parents. Even if your own childhood may have been hurt in some way, you now can reexperience childhood with your own children. Instead of attempting to mold children into being us, we want them to be themselves and we want to learn from their uniqueness and purity. There is much more we can learn from a child than they can learn from us.
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