Insights » Early Childhood Parenting Age 1-6, Scope and Challenges

Early Childhood Parenting Age 1-6, Scope and Challenges

PPfamily jpgRecently when I visited a family, I was astonished to see a mother is beating a two year old for not memorising English alphabets and numbers from 1 to 100. In this case the mother is utterly ignorant of what a two year old can learn and the child’s cognitive (brain) development stages.


Parenting of young children in the age of group of 1- 6 poses a great challenge to parents especially couples having their first child. Most of the young parents are living away from their families due to migration and foreign job. In the present nuclear family setting, young couples lack the help and advice of their parents and grandparents. Due to ignorance of child’s growth and development pattern, young parents rear their children according to their pre-conceived ideas and understanding. Many parents mess up the art of parenting and the children became undisciplined, violent and disobedient. Moreover, for effective parenting of early child hood children, parents should be full aware of children’s   intellectual, physical and emotional growth stages.


Physical growth in Early Childhood

A commonly found wrong practice adopted by many parents to over feed their children and always force to eat more than what is required.  At two years of age children have body weight four times more than their birth time weight. From age two to three an average child increases by 1.8 kg and 3 inches a year. Between four to six years of age, body weight increases by 2.2 to 3.1 kg. By age six the average child weights 20.4 kg and 46 inches tall. Lack of awareness about kids physical growth parameters, many parents their children to overeat and subsequently children became fatty and overweight.


Two year old cannot handle a crayon or colour pencil due to non-completion myelinisation process. A four year old can easily use crayons and pencil to write or colour something. It means parents should patiently wait till their children attain the age of four to engage them in writing and colouring activities. At this age parents should encourage the children to use crayons, brushes, building blocks, pencils etc. The more they use, greater will be their skills. 


Cognitive (Intellectual / Brain) development in  Early Childhood 

By the age of four, children can think about things beyond their day to day experience. From 2 to 6 , children develop an understanding about people, surroundings, gender differences, family members, animals, birds, trees, vehicles, machines etc. Their ability to concentrate increases with the age.  A three year old cannot focus on something even for 10 minutes. A six year old can focus their attention on a game or book for 20 minutes to half an hour.  Parents must be aware of the stages of language development in children. By the age of three children rapidly acquire new words. Children in their early childhood use one word to refer to whole sentence or a bigger idea. For instance a child says ‘food’ points to larger meaning i.e.. ‘I am hungry and need food’. A child says ‘ball’ denotes the child’s desire to play. By two years of age children speak using the combination of two words. 


Language development in Early Childhood

Children between the ages of 2 to 6 learn an average of 8 new words a day. Around three and half years children will be able to use longer sentences. Many parents worried that using two different languages may confuse their child and slow down the language learning process. I myself experience this in our home. We use Malayalam in our home and from birth my daughter is exposed to Malayalam whereas when she joined Kindergarten, the exposure to English made things difficult. Sometimes she used word in one language instead of another language. For example ‘ Muyal’ is word used in Malayalam to call rabbit. In school when teacher showed a rabbit picture and told her to identify, she called it ‘ Muyal’. We found it difficult to teach her two different words for the same object.  However modern research in the field of psychology shown that bilingual children have more language skills and intellectual abilities than monolingual children.


Day Care in Early Childhood

Nowadays majority of children under the age of four go to baby sitting or day care centres.  Day care children have more ability for social and peer interaction than home raised kids. Also studies proved that a widespread notion of lack of emotional bound between day care child and mother is utterly wrong. Day care doesn’t spoil the child’s emotional bond with mother.  Like a coin has two sides, sending children to day care has some negative impacts. If children are looked after by harsh and impatient caregivers, the children may develop negative emotional reactions. Recently, media has brought to light the severe punishment and cruel treatments of caregivers in a day care centre in the city of Cochin. Children were beaten and verbally abused. Parents must be vigilant about the educational and emotional level of caregivers.


Parenting styles

There are three common styles of parenting.  Awareness of parenting styles helps parents to adopt the best and scientific style of parenting.  The authoritarian parenting is a style of parenting. Such parents force discipline on their children.  They make child obey whatever instructions given. I know may such authoritarian parents who shout and beat children. However imposing strict disciple would backfire and children might be rebellious in teenage. 

A second type of parenting is called permissive parent. They are protective and loving and never force discipline on children. Children of permissive parents, grow in an atmosphere of freedom and happiness.

A third category of parenting is known as uninvolved parenting. They are indifferent to child’s need for affection and discipline. Children of uninvolved parents are found to be careless in studies and having  behavioural issues. 


Discipline and Punishment

Parents use punishment as a tool to disciple their child. However physical punishment has negative impacts. Children who got severe punishment at home may behave violently with other children and teachers. Many harshly punished boys turned anti socials in their teenage.   Parents have other options for dealing children’s bad behaviour. Avoid situations where the child frequently misbehave or disobey. Also temporarily withdrawn some privileges enjoyed by the children will help to control their behavioural issues. For instance, instead of beating a child who uses bad words, deny them weekly outings or some rewards.


Single Parent families

Single parent family is the result of divorce or foreign employment of father or mother. In most cases, single mother receives less support from relatives and have to bear the burden of rearing children. However, children from single parenting families are more independent and responsible.

In short, parents should play a vital role in teaching and training children skills and attitudes that will enable them to adapt to new environments and people. New parents might be more anxious and worried about their style of parenting. Parenting requires learning and practical implementation of learned techniques. Seek advice and help from paediatricians, psychologists, counsellors, elders and grandparents.  Reading parenting books and family magazines would help you to update new ideas and tips of effective family.


Duglas gifDuglas Joseph 


(Writer on Social, Educational and parenting issues. Conducting counselling and seminars on teenage, career guidance and  educational issues. Faculty at Gems Our Own English School Fujairah. Former faculty at Ministry of Education Maldives)


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