Parenting has evolved over time, from a parental instinct into various aspects influenced by culture and tradition, science and knowledge systems. Individual choice is, of course, the final determinant. While there is a great deal of useful information available in the public sphere, it seems to focus on schooling and education, and on problem behaviour. We believe that there is a need for a more holistic approach to childhood and parenting, with a value for diversity and inclusion across all social groups.
Children develop through an intricate weave of nature and nurture. A large part of the development of the human brain occurs in the womb and in the first three years of life. In the foetal stage, the mother’s physical and mental well-being positively influences the baby’s neural networking and development. Stimulations in the early years, through play and conversation, accelerate the development of enhanced learning capacities in the child. Results of studies in early childhood development show that early stimulative inputs, as well as physical displays of love and tenderness, have decisive and long-term positive effects on the child.
For all those in a parenting role, it is crucial to be equipped with information on the various stages of child development, appropriate coping mechanisms, enabling attitudes, and the skills required for good parenting.
- Comparison with other children is detrimental to the child’s self-esteem. Each child’s actions and achievements should be individually appreciated.
- Children should not be punished physically or emotionally, and should not be insulted, humiliated, or abused in any way. Simple corrective measures to promote the child’s sense of self-responsibility should be adopted.
- Negative personal remarks, such as those with reference to colour, gender, looks, abilities, etc., undermine the child’s self-esteem and should be avoided. Natural endowments of the child, looking beyond societal prejudices, should be appreciated.
- Positive, two-way communication is essential to building the child’s self-esteem. Establish an open line of communication. Listening is as important as talking.
- Small rewards of a smile or hug are more valuable than material rewards. Appreciate the child’s efforts with appropriate recognition, however small.
- No discrimination. Both genders should be treated equally, and provided with equal opportunities to develop their own identity.
- Children should not be isolated, rejected, or neglected, but should be included in the family, school, and community.
- The child should be in an inclusive environment at all times.
- The child’s happiness should be the focal point of any activity.
Children develop their optimum potential when development is addressed holistically. In their book 'Good Beginnings', Judith Evans and Ellen Ilfeld identify five elements of children’s mental and physical responses to the world. These elements work together to determine the quality and nature of the child’s growth. They are the child’s Sense of Self (S), the child’s Physical abilities (P), the child’s Relationships with other people (R), the child’s Understanding of the physical world (U), and the child’s ability to Communicate thoughts, wishes, needs, and feelings (C). BMRF, together with NIP, has added a sixth element to this, which is the child’s Environment (E), as we believe in supporting good parenting practices within the constraints of the environment of the child.
Parenting is a dynamic process, spanning the entire life cycle of every human being. The life cycle approach considers intervention at each stage of a child’s development, accelerating and building on earlier positive action, and, where necessary, facilitating rectification.
The central thrust of our work is to expand the definition of Parent to include all those in a parenting role. The parenting role is not exclusively that of the mother and father, but also of grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, caregivers, doctors, and any adult who has some degree of contact with the child. Using PARENTS as an acronym, we remember parents as follows:
P – Pappa
A – Amma
R – Relatives
E – Elders
N – Neighbours
T – Teachers
S – Society