The word "childhood" often conjures up an image of children running in a field, chasing each other and having not a care in the world. It is an image which harks back to the Little House on The Prairie type era. In our modern age childhood consists of some quite different images. Children are often found leaning over a computer, eyes firmly focused on a TV program or with both hands stuck to the playstation.
The education system has evolved to a point where children are also more educated than we were at their age. They are aware of climate change issues in the way we never were because the science of environmental damage didn’t exist when some of us were children. Never before has a young generation been exposed to so many developments and changes.
However, along with all these developments have come pressures on our children. There is more violence in our neighborhoods, commercial pressures from advertising which make children feel inferior if they don’t have the best and latest gadget, family break ups is at the highest rate ever and the pressure to do well at school increases. In many ways children have never had it this hard. What then can we do to ensure that their childhood is a happy and memorable one producing life skills that will sustain them well into adulthood? In other words, what makes for a happy and well-adjusted childhood?
No one would dispute that children need a loving and supportive network. This is where they learn love from to be able to give love back to others. A feeling of self-affirmation is important for building self-esteem. Children need boundaries which are firm but which have been set within a reasonable and loving context. I don’t believe in aggressive parenting but I do believe that it is important to say ‘no’ when unacceptable behaviour is displayed. The setting of boundaries gives a child a feeling of security because he/she learns in this way what is socially pleasing behavior. Emotional resilience is extremely important because it enables a child to cope with disappointments. The importance of teaching values cannot be overestimated because it helps a child give meaning to life and their surroundings.
Every child is valuable and, as mothers, there is much that we can do to make their childhood and their world a better and fun place for them to live in and to want to grow up in.