Raising A Child With All The Dynamics They Need To Survive As An Adult
Teach by example
Innovations in medicine, psychology and education have demonstrated that the mind/body is one energy unit. Clearly, a thought is a biochemical event associated with feelings.
Feelings and emotions accompany inner dialogue, whether or not we are aware of it. Every time parents demonstrate compassion for another's suffering or respect and joy for another's triumph, they model the spiritual qualities that help children mature emotionally.
Parenting the whole child means supporting the child's physical health, spiritual well being, and emotional and mental fitness. It reminds parents of two things: (1) they cannot separate their children into fragments, and (2) they look for simple ways to be mindful of their children's needs.
Support and education
Here are eight ways to support the whole child as you educate a child's mind body and spirit in the ways of the world.
From the time children are young, parents teach them how to interact and socialize in the world, setting up boundaries for behavior and setting expectations for achievements. As parents, you are among the caretakers of your children's future. You are responsible for nurturing them for success in this physical world -- in whatever way it is measured in the family values you hold.
What you feed children physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually is what they will give back. For example, children who eat large amounts of sugar will be more active. If children are asked questions that challenge their minds, they will be mentally curious. If children are taught to meditate or pray with you, they will find value in contemplation.
You nurture children's emotions through building confidence. That's why it's important to try new experiences. Complete projects together. Play uplifting music in the background of an activity. Research an child's interest and take action together: save the whales, plant a tree, deliver food to someone who needs it, plant a flower garden.
Lots of touches and affection
Your child's nervous system continues to need bonding through touch even through the teen years. Toddler kisses become childhood hugs, which later become a pat on the shoulder and a brief teen embrace. Touch and bonding matter significantly for children of all ages.
Since the mind/body is one energy unit, ensure that your child's physical energy stays balanced through exercise. Choose activities that suit their body types and temperaments. Yogic stretching, martial arts and solo exercises such as swimming, walking, hiking or biking might be fun for children who prefer limited or no competition. Organized sports might interest more active children.
To help children gain confidence, start by accepting your own children's feelings and emotions. Think of their emotions as moving energy -- energy you don't want to get stuck. Help children acknowledge how they feel, accept these feelings as they are, or change them if need be. As parents, you can learn to accept, acknowledge, and direct emotional expression to the appropriate place at the right time for your children.
If children feel mentally or emotionally stuck, teach them positive self-talk to get through difficult situations. When nine-year-old John looked down from a high Ferris wheel seat, he talked himself through his fear. When Lauren was due to give a final summation in a debate class, she talked aloud to psyche herself up with energy. When 14-year-old Keith started to lose his temper in class, he recognized his short fuse, so he took time to breathe deeply and speak to himself mentally to calm down. p>
Time out for nothing
In the midst of children's busy and focused lives, remember to take time for "nothing." Allow space for no activity. We use the term space to describe a state that is empty of expectations, conditions and outcomes. Having space means having unstructured time and both children and adults often have difficulty with this. If you can teach children (and yourself) to use unstructured time and space creatively, you can discover much beauty and unconditional worthiness. Your inspiration will grow from within as you create life on your own terms.
The joy of parenting the whole child is that whatever you do to feed one aspect of their wholeness also feeds the other components. You can relax knowing that your mindfulness about meeting all of your children's needs helps you know what those needs might be.