To reach out to you when I’m in need, and to try to be here for you when you need me back. And to feel such tenderness when I look at you that I want to stand between you and all the world: and yet also to lift you up and carry you above the strong currents of life; and at the same time, I would be glad to stand always like this, at a distance, watching you, the beauty of you.” Orson Scott Card, Children of the Mind

Children are the biggest assets we have as parents, as a society and nation. No pleasure can match up to a child’s sweetness, giggles and fascination. When you are sad, dejected or feel low just try looking at the cute activities of a child… you will get instant happiness and relief. Children tend to have immense potentialities within them. Psychologists say that majority of brain and personality development occurs in the first five years of life. Therefore, children should be given a conducive environment to live in so that they grow up as fully functioning individuals.

Sadly, we tend to be so engrossed in our own lives that we forget our importance in the lives of our children. We tend to thrust the pressure of our challenges, struggles and frustrations on our children. This leaves a huge negative impact in their lives too. Next time you feel like shedding your frustration on your child, just think that being your kid was not his/her fault. He/she deserves all your love and concern, care and affection.

If your child’s mind is not nurtured in a proper way, then its potential remains unraveled and un-used. This may lead to many behavioral and personality problems in future. In order to help your child grow up in the most effective way, there are many things that you can do. Shaping and molding a child’s mind in a healthy way gives rise to a happy, healthy, successful, virtuous individual in the making. Do not let your child’s life and potentialities go in vain. Trust me; your child has many gifts within him/her waiting to be unpacked! Here are some easy exercises that you can do in order to sharpen your child’s mind:

Quality Time

Spend quality time with your child. I know if you are a working parent, it is difficult to be by your child’s side 24/7. What I intend to say is spending “Quality” time with your child is important. How much time you spend with him or her is not as necessary as how you are spending your time with your kid. If you are spending almost 8 hrs a day with your kid and all you are doing is staying mum or doing your work, this does not help. Even if you are there with your kid for an hour try to speak to your child, sing songs or play together, show your love ‘n’ warmth to your lil’ one or go out for a walk/drive/visiting place together. In short, whatever time you get with your child, try to spend it actively, in an involved and worthwhile manner.

Sun ‘n’ Shower

Nature is one of the best nurturer of human mind. Make your child play outdoors in the garden, sand or seashore. When your child gets ample oxygen and sunshine his mind develops in an amazing manner. This also gives a boost to his immune system and psychological well being. Each and every day and season has its own significance in physical and psychological development. Summer stands for alertness and confidence, winter gives serenity and balance, spring brings brightness of hues with it while autumn brings hope. So no matter what a season is, your child should get an exposure to all these so that he/she gets ample raw materials for a healthy brain and body development. Do not cocoon your child indoors. Let him play out in the sun and feel the soft drizzles of rains too. Nature is the best nurturer and medicine too!

Indoor activities

Interesting indoor activities also cater to a significant cognitive development in a child. Dab your kid’s hands with colors and make him/her paint on a canvas; play with stacking cups or read out a book, sing a song or dance to your child’s favorite tune… indoor activities are also equally important as outdoor games.

Tip: Always remember to baby-proof your home to prevent your child from injuries.

Challenges and Soft-skills

Along with playful activities your child also needs specific understanding and skills so that his/her mind can fully develop and sharpen. I have seen many parents who are overly protective for their children. They spoon-feed their kids even before they ask anything; they hug their kids tight even before they fall. But, this will only make your child even more introverted, shy and dumb. Therefore, it is necessary to be protective but not too over-protective.

Just as your child needs playful activities to train his brain, he/she also requires challenges to enhance significant cognitive skills like decision making, critical thinking, memory boost, dexterity skills, fine motor and gross motor skills, speech and language development, personality development etc. Try to involve your child in your daily chores, make him/her to help you put things at the proper place, put waste paper in a dust-bin, and fix a problem with you and other simple tasks. This will work as a buffer to your child’s brain and behavior development as a whole. Moreover, this will also improve his/her sense of understanding, self-esteem, sense of belongingness, self-confidence and so on. My 1.8 yr old son deliberately makes his baby-cycle to fall down. In the beginning I picked it up for him. But, when he used his own strength and idea to make his cycle stand up again, the happiness and pride in his face was beyond words and comparison!

Believe me, your child has every tool and raw material to make his body and brain develop in an effective manner. He/she just needs a workshop of life where he/she can experiment, get involved and learn. Here are some more vital things that you need to do in order to sharpen your kid’s mind and personality:

Age-appropriate Interactions Just as you like interacting with people of your age group, your child also likes to be among other children of his age group. As a parent or relative no matter what activities we do to nurture our child in the best possible way, but children tend to develop at their best when they are also given a chance to play and mingle with other children of their age. Try making your child interact with children of his age group through a parent’s group, a playgroup etc.
Sleep and rest Just as you get tired after a long tiring day or after a strenuous job, your child also gets tired. Do not stop your child from taking rest or sleeping. This may hamper brain development to a substantial level. Allow your child to take rest or sleep whenever he/she wants to. The brain develops, grows, replenishes during sleep.Major neural connections and brain development happens during sleep. So sleep and rest also sharpens your child’s mind.
Modeling Treat your child the way you like to be treated. Of course you also won’t like to be slapped or punished. So how can your child like that? When we become harsh or punitive towards our children we are pulling their minds to fall into a pit of pain and negative emotions. Instead try to be a role model for your child. Children learn through imitating. So now you need to decide which behavior you would like them to learn!
Age – appropriate activities I have seen many parents who switch the TV on while making their children eat something; moreover children are also given laptops, tablets and mobiles to play at a very tender age. If you are doing this to your kid please try to stop that soon. Your child’s prefrontal cortex is too feeble to absorb many activities or complex actions at once. Age-appropriate games, eating styles, activities are very important to help your child’s mind grow in an effective manner. Don’t try to make them out-grow their age. This will only make their life even more complex and gruesome.

Though your child may look small and tender, but his/her mind is filled up with immense potentials and strengths. It is like a huge ocean that can absorb things very quickly.

Can you tell me what does the figure below represent? A child drew it in a therapy session.

Child Drawing in Therapy Session

The therapist also could not understand anything out of this drawing. After being asked the child said that: This is a picture of my home. My parents always fight with each other and want to leave each other. So I want my home to be safe and together and that is why I am trying to tie it with strings of love and togetherness. I love my mum and dad very much and want them to be together”.

So folks, this is the depth of understanding of a child’s mind. Do not consider a child to be foolish or small. May be your child cannot speak or express with the right words, but he/she can surely sense your words and emotions, thoughts and behavior.

Hope this blog would encourage you to help your child grow in a loving and caring yet challenging and free way!

Best wishes,