Sitting with a baby, toddler or older child and reading together is one of the lovely memories of childhood and parenthood. It is really is quality time together, even if you are reading with more than one child at the same time. Creating a love of books and a love of reading is the start of an essential skill that will be needed through every sphere of their life; business, daily life and pleasure.
Reading together can be done on train and air journeys, whilst waiting to see a medical practitioner, in the evening before bedtime to calm them down after an exciting day and, of course, the much loved bedtime story. Even if you are tired, stressed or up against a deadline that precious reading together time will be a very valuable interruption.
You will find that your tension and anxieties will fade and you will feel refreshed. You will always be able to catch up on your tasks and you have shared some precious time with the child.
Play is vital and something we as a species do throughout our lives, even into old age. There are many ways to play with your child and you don’t have to join in fully every time if you don’t really feel like it or can’t think of anything to play. Just listening to your child play, or watching and answering the child’s questions whilst they play, can be a beginning.
Joining in part of the play, like helping to build a den, making tiny sandwiches together before the child plays at having a doll’s tea party or teddy bear’s picnic. Playing guessing games, making up stories together whilst you cook, or do other household tasks is still playing together.
However if you can join in their physical games and pretend imaginative games the memory of the fun and laughter will remind you of those precious times.
No, I don’t mean leave them unattended or alone in the house. I mean give them space and time to indulge in their own imaginary games. Allow them the time to get bored, if necessary, and find a way to amuse themselves.
Being self-sufficient is a valuable asset for later life and being able to fill their time creatively is going to give them another life skill. Children make sense of life and what they see and hear by playing and it is a necessary part of child development.
I mean really listen, perhaps even stop what you are doing to listen. After all it is a courtesy you would extend to others. If you are patient and listen you will be able to establish a valuable relationship with your child where he feels able to confide in you.
Your child will also be developing the ability to express himself and also to listen in return. Believe me it will be worth it, although you may wonder what went wrong when your child reaches the monosyllabic grunts of the teenage years. They will emerge from that and the relationship you established will still be there.
Cuddle a Lot
Lots and lots of cuddles when the child is young, whilst the child is growing and for as long as the child welcomes it – keep cuddling. As they grow and go to school they may not welcome displays of affection in public or at the school gate but will still give you a hug at home. Even boys.
Some children may be a little touch averse and their displays of affection may be through words (see point 5 above) or a touch rather than through a hug. Again respect this, but holding and cuddling makes a child feel secure and loved and that is priceless.