They say it takes a village to raise a child, according to the African proverb. I’ve had parents tell me it can feel like it takes an army. For families making a conscience effort and putting their best foot forward, being surrounded by a helpful community can mean the difference between a happier home and a chaotic one. While raising a child “right” undeniably starts with mom and dad laying down that solid foundation, the influence of caregivers, like teachers, professional help such as nannies and close extended family members, will have a major impact on a child’s level of confidence and social behaviour.
I have found that young parents, in particular, can often have the trickiest time adjusting to parenthood. Youth is on their side and that physical energy allows those moms and dads to keep up with their rambunctious children. However, their emotional energy can run out just as quickly as the most seasoned parents. For those young spirited parents living at home with their own parents, it can often be difficult to strike the right parent-child dynamic and many fall into the perilous position of “best friend” or “big sister” role. For these young parents, setting healthy boundaries, understanding their parental responsibilities and soaking up wise words from those adults around them who know from experience will leave them feeling more empowered. Let’s face it,  you’ll have plenty of time to be your child’s friend as they get older – then you can laugh about their messy nappies and teenage tantrums. For now, it’s time to call in the reinforcements.
The easiest way to turn a child’s positive behaviour into habit is through repetition and being consistent.  Early education is vital, and through your example of these habits and other adults you are exposing your child to, you create an environment that fosters growth and education. Without even realizing it your children are looking up to you for direction to guide and teach. Children learn through play and they remember when it is a fun experience. Your children then go on to form positive connections with their teachers at an early age. This not only helps your child to pick up these good habits daily but, it also creates a yearning to learn more. If your child is not enrolled in a full-time daycare or preschool program, you still have the option to expose them in a structured environment  by signing up for classes in perhaps, swimming, music, a library playgroup, or a local One o’clock club. Of course, teachers are just the start.  You’ll want to encourage the same ideas when you choose a regular babysitter or decide which of your friends are best to watch over your children. Assembling the proper group of adults to surround your children is definitely an ongoing process but I can tell you the rewards are real. Healthy self-esteem and worth, a positive parent-child dynamic, and your child, as they become older, feeling like an important member of a larger community, all comes from good role models both inside and outside the home.
So remember that one of the most important things you are teaching your child every day is what it means to be an adult. And other grownups are your best partners in that effort. Have fun sharing your kids from an early age. Allow them to learn from all those positive adults that surround them every day as it will help shape them into the caring conscientious adults you want them to be.
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