Many parents are not aware of this, but when children engage in play at playgrounds and in nature, they are building foundational skills for academic success. Playing outdoors is FUN for kids! It provides opportunities to make friends, build confidence, and encourage mastery of new skills. Below are some of the physical benefits to playing at the playground.
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; [the Lakota] knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.” – Luther Standing Bear
Nature is essential to our spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. Nature has so much to teach us about ourselves, the natural world, the interconnectedness of all things, how things work, and much more. In nature, we come to appreciate beauty, and we are more relaxed–if we allow ourselves to be. For me, nature is awe-inspiring: when I walk in the woods, I feel connected to life! Children, when allowed to really interact with nature, can be very creative. More and more our children are spending too much time indoors, and we see the results of this in their health problems. Here are a few ways to encourage your family to interact with nature.
Fine motor skills refers to the movement of the small muscles of the hands, wrists, fingers. Fine motor coordination involves the coordination and controlled movements of the hands; movement that is required to perform tasks such as dressing, self-care, cutting, pasting, coloring and writing. Having poor fine motor skills impacts children’s ability to perform many of the tasks required for self-care and in the classroom. Below are a few activities to strengthen fine motor skills.
When my son was a few years old, I walked into my bedroom a few minutes after I had just cleaned it to find him tearing the room apart. Instead of reacting, something compelled me to ask him what he was doing. He looked at me a bit perplexed at the fact that I couldn’t tell, then proceeded to explained that he was building a slide. It took only a moment but I saw that indeed he was building a slide
“Families are mini-cultures and they share language, attitudes, and behavior in common. These tend to be acted out in each generation and passed along.” Carolyn Foster
Every year in February my family celebrates the Baha’i Intercalary Days. The children receive gifts and give gifts. We have a grand celebration with friends and family and find a service project to engage in together. This has been one of our traditions since our children were born, and for me, since my childhood.
“Virtues are what’s good about us.” 6-year old girl (from The Virtues Guide by Linda Popov)
When my children were babies, I was a ferocious consumer of parenting books. One of the early lessons I learned from one of them was to tap into the power of words to transform the way I parent, by using the language of virtues with children. There is an entire book written on the topic, so I won’t go into too much detail, but here is a taste of it.
A few weeks ago, I had a huge falling out with my 13 year old son, which happens every now and then. Upon reflection, I realized that I was clearly out of order. What struck me later was how quickly we both recovered, made up and moved on. Most importantly, my son was very forgiving. This incident made me think about the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In one of the chapters, Covey writes about the emotional bank account.
According to Covey, an emotional bank account is a metaphor for the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship. One of the key foundations of a strong relationship is trust. In order to build trust one must continually make deposits of honesty, kindness, unconditional love, patience, all of those essential virtues that strengthen any relationship. In doing so, we build large reserves in the emotional bank account. When we form habits like cutting children off, being reactive, dishonest, or disrespectful, our child’s “bank” runs dry. The result is that often, when they are teenagers, there is very little room for communication and trust.
The action of making deposits begins at birth and continues throughout life. I made a withdrawal from the emotional bank account last week, but I feel we both recovered easily because of the reserve in the account. We often make mistakes when parenting our children, but if there is a large reserve, we can overcome them together and with greater ease. Lately with my work schedule picking up, I’ve made more mistakes in the parenting department than usual and I am so grateful for my children (and husband) and for their patience, flexibility and willingness to forgive.
Here are just a few ways to make deposits in the emotional bank account:
- Love unconditionally, with no strings attached.
- Truly understand the individual by sharpening your listening skills.
- Keep your promises and commitments.
- Show integrity in everything you do–your actions speak louder than words.
- Apologize when you make mistakes.
- Pay attention to the little things that may mean little to you but the world to them.
- Spend a lot time together, especially while they are young and want to be around you.
I highly recommend the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The chapter on emotional bank accounts is a lot more detailed than my short reflection.
What are some of the ways you make deposits into your child’s emotional bank account? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
“O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined”. –Baha’u’llah
I have been blessed with two beautiful souls whom I am honored to call my children. They are loving, smart, adventurous, and very silly individuals who are a constant source of inspiration. Today on Mother’s Day as I reflect on the gift of accompanying them on their journey through life, it warms my soul!
“Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. They bear the seeds of the character of future society which is largely shaped by what the adults constituting the community do or fail to do with respect to children.” The Universal House of Justice of the Baha’is of the World, 2000.
I love this quote! It has inspired some of the best learning experiences with my children.
A few common statements that one may hear adults use when they are angry with children are:
- “What is wrong with you?”
- “That was bad.”
- “That was very rude!”
- “That was so stupid.”
- “Why are you being so mean to your sister or brother?”
…and the list goes on.