For a young child, every moment with a loving and engaged family provides an opportunity for healthy development. For a parent, every day brings opportunities and moments to engage and observe your child's ever expanding potential.
In the parent-child relationship, both parents and children actively contribute to the formation of their relationships. As parents, you bring along history and memories of early experiences with your own parents and family into the relationships that you wish to form with your children. In addition, each parent has a personality and character traits that affect (positively and negatively) your relationship and interaction with the child. While you, as a parent, tend to take the lead in creating the relationship with children when they are very young, children still play an active role. Even as babies, they begin to bring in personality to the relationship and work hard to communicate that. They exhibit unique temperaments and from the beginning, try to make sense of the relationships they have with their mother and father, and to develop their own mental representations of the relationships. The relationships develop a history from which children and parents anticipate the future.
As childcare professionals, we feel the need to emphasize on this relation between parents and child and help you acknowledge the high-rises and pit-falls associated with it. We support you in playing a significant role in your child's development, which is not so much of an automatic process.
With experience, we have learned that the best way to help parents understand their child's specific needs is making them participate in activities together with the professional with them. Therapists' help parents recognize moments when even the very young child is ready to participate in some of the steps. For example, if you want your child to put on his shorts independently by the age of five years, we encourage you to start to help him learn at a younger age to pull his shorts up from his knees to his bottom whenever you dress him.
Parents are encouraged to not follow very rigid play routines at home but do so as a part of everyday life in a natural way and in the natural situation. We must provide opportunities for children to recognize activities and give meaning to them. Selecting activities that are part of daily life helps the child also to learn the activity when other children of the same age and sex are performing it. The natural way and situation in which the activities are done lets the place and time become ways to help the child remember when, where and how to do the activity. It facilitates to learn the cues for starting and ending an activity, because it makes sense for the child.
Parents are encouraged to make simple house rules such as if the family has an area for eating; the child should also eat there. It is also important to do the activity in the way the family or peers do it. It facilitates learning and increases the participation of the child in family or community life. If the family will all eat together, then the child should learn to eat together with the other family members.
Most importantly, do an activity together in the natural way and situation, as this will evoke natural rewarding elements in the actual situation that will stimulate the learning process. E.g. helping decorate the house before a party where the guests will later praise the same.