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Invest in interpersonal relationship skills
Monday June 18, 2012
The early years of a child’s life are the years in which your child learns how to relate to other people, what conversations between people should sound like, and how interpersonal relationships should make him feel. This becomes important when your child starts school, not only in that it shapes their skill and ability in forming peer friendships, but also in that those relationship with teachers and significant adults, and their expectations for that relationship, will be based on experience of his relationship with you, and to a lesser extent, the other adults in his life. While I’m pretty old-fashioned about respect between parents and kids (and that’s mutual respect – respect goes both ways!) a child who also experiences his relationship with his parents as fun, and who is accustomed to reading, playing, talking, sharing and learning from them, will also approach his school teachers with the enthusiastic expectation that learning with and from them will be fun.
When children are very little, they engage primarily in solitary play, or in “Parallel Play,” where two toddlers enjoy each other’s company by sitting near, or in view of, each other, each doing his own thing. Then, children learn to engage in play with one other child at a time, just two of them, or just mum and child. The next level of social development involves learning to function as part of a group of three or more. Family activities, whatever the size of your family, are the natural and organic way for your child to learn to be part of a group, and investing the little bit of planning that it takes to see to it that you all eat supper together several nights a week costs absolutely nothing in money, and pays huge dividends.
There is joy in accomplishing something that is challenging, and a feeling that comes from having put in great effort and perhaps overcoming frustrations, challenges, and obstacles along the way, to get a job done or to acquire a skill, is a feeling that comes only with a serious investment of time. Showing our children by example and allowing them the space and freedom to engage this way themselves is a valuable investment in time and their futures.
You can only teach your child this work ethic, and this joy comes from a serious investment of both his time, and your own. Knowing how to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels, or how to kick a soccer goal, or how to count to 100 by twos, or recite a long poem by heart, are a mere side benefit to knowing how to work hard, for the joy of accomplishment. Time for this is the best investment a parent can make.
Budgeting, lists, prioritizing our spending are all valuable elements in saving money. I strongly advocate for taking TIME with our kids. In our fast paced and highly-scheduled world, often it’s the simple things that are the best. Time to have conversations at the dinner table, time to walk slowly holding hands, time to read a book together, time to play a game, time for a cuddle and a tickle on the back are my most favorite things with my boys – and they don’t cost a thing.
I firmly believe that TIME will be the best investment in our children, and will pay great dividends down the track.
Article by Pauline Duncan - Knowledge Box
Pauline is obsessed with ‘barracking for kids’. Providing support, programs and strategies for children and families has driven all of Pauline’s consulting and projects throughout her career.
Pauline was Head of Junior School at Wesley College when she was 26 years of age, and now works with parents and relocating families to help them with decisions about choosing schools – there’s more information out there than ever, yet more confusion for families. Schools get Pauline’s strategic advice to develop communication and marketing plans and she mentors executives and education professionals.
All pro-bono work is devoted to Lighthouse Foundation and Impact for Women. Pauline’s most important role is Mum to Duncan (11) and Alec (9).
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