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Top 10 Childhood Needs

October 14, 2012

There is a wonderful list of the top 10 needs of children for education given to the parents at my children’s school.  I was asked if I had a list for parenting and if so would  I share it .  After some thought what I came up was a list that I have tried to offer to my children as well as advocate for parents to offer theirs. The problem with lists like these is that much like baking, individually the ingredients are fine  but it is the alchemy  in blending  that produces the best result.

1. Family Meal Time

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, after dinner snack, any of these make a fine time to sit together, communicate about daily lives, and simply be with your child. Manners, social skills, communication skills, security of family life, physical capacity of stillness and small motor dexterity are just of few of the gems that come into play at meals. There are countless reasons why this is important, the best being that sitting together  emphasizes the importance of family while also giving  pause during each day to connect and nourish the spirit.

2. Rhythm

This is life’s little magic wand.  Steiner spoke to the idea that rhythm replaces strength.  Not to be confused with structure or scheduling, rhythm is the flowing flexible  consistence humans crave. Just like the season or the diurnal cycle  rhythm offers a lovely pattern in the days and weeks that you may count on, rely upon and lean into. The benefits of rhythm are consistency , ease in transitions, a feeling of security for you and your child of what comes next , and freedom from  lassitude and the “what nows”.

3. Clearly Defined and Exhibited Family Values

That old quip, you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, comes to mind. Know what your family values, morals and ethics are. Be clear in the explanation and expectation and then walk your talk.

4. Balanced  Play and Quiet time

Children need play. Physical outside /inside exuberant unabashed play. The myriad of benefits is far too long to cite  on this short list. Play lays the ground work for all a child will become or do in life. The brain is hardwired to play in childhood. The best play is child driven, imaginative and without parental narration.

5. Nature

Nature is the natural world . From the windowsill garden to the great oceans and  night sky.  Take walks, plant gardens, lie on the grass and stargaze, make mud pies, climb trees, go on hikes, watch the season change and follow them in your home.  Put your feet on mother earth and not concrete, experience the weather. Humans need to be in nature and  interacting with nature. Period.

6. Give the Basics with Thought and Care. 

Everyone needs food, shelter  and warmth to survive.  Give it willingly, with love and attention to detail.  Food, clothing, media all of these are choices we make in the daily lives of our children; each  sending the messages of what we value and support. Choose what you will,but know why you are choosing it, be conscious of your choice.

7. Ability to practice responsibility

Give your child the benefit of responsibility in small age-appropriate doses. Chores, animal care, allowance, packing their own lunch, cooking dinner with you, learning to make decisions for themselves.  All children rise or fall to the belief of capacity given of them; from responsibility  comes a pure form of instant self-esteem in accomplishment.

8. Parents and Adults who offer clear Consistent  Boundaries.

Boundaries are the result of understanding your expectations. I once heard that boys want to know who is in charge, what are the rules and are they enforced. Surely girls want the same. Humans thrive on boundaries, how far they stretch or contract. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Follow up , follow through and your child will trust you and trust the world around them.

9. Reverence

Recognition that all in life are  worthy, respect for the world around them, capacity for spirituality and empathy.  One of the greatest of human virtues  is recognizing and respecting the other. Reverence is kindness, politeness,  respect, awe and humility  all in action together. It is an awareness that there are in life those things or others more  important, more beautiful, more wondrous in the universe than oneself. Reverence is the awe of a nautilus shell to the respect for ones own body or another’  spiritual path.

10. Presence and Affection

You may do and be all the above but your child will not feel loved without , physical affection, genuine interest, eye contact, hearing not just listening. They are after all a human worthy of your greatest gift, attention. Offer guidance, participate at school, in after school sports, and with homework. Talk with your child, know their friends and those who vex them. Be an integral part of your child’s life not just  food service, chauffeur, personal shopper, and warden. You blessed your life with a child, now bless the child by sharing your life.

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