Raising children is not easy, but it is absolutely important that we teach our children good manners, healthy routines and habits, as well as individual responsibility.
Do Try To’s
- Teach your child to apologise when they are in the wrong and that it is not a weakness to acknowledge when he or she has done something wrong.
- Make sure that the under 5’s have time for a nap. This is as important for them as it is for you. For more information on sleep for babies and children, please go to the ‘Healthy and Well-Being’ page under the ‘Important Tables’ section.
- If you are teaching your child how to do something – for instance, how to make their bed, get dressed or washing the dishes – take the time to teach them how to do these tasks properly. It might take time for them to do the task to an adult standard, but don’t give up and be consistent; they will get there in the end. It is important for children to learn how to do things properly whatever the task or chore might be. Completing a task to good standards is an important skill that children should be taught.
- Have a daily routine for educational play in the house. This can be reading or playing, but with intention of teaching the child something. It doesn’t have to be a long period but do try to stick to it as much as you can. Educational play and reading not only encourages you to spend time and interact with your child but it establishes a routine for spending quality time with your child. Educational play and reading will teach the child skills such as picking up language, asking questions, counting, learning different parts of the body and shapes and numbers. Interactive children’s play and reading will improve the child’s listening skills, allows the child to ask questions about the stories or the session, improves their memory plus they learn how to interact and engage with books.
Reading and interactive routine
- Have a bag of age-appropriate books somewhere the child can recognise but can’t reach.
- 1-3 books, try to include books with interactive short stories e.g. where is my nose, mouth and eyes, number counting and shapes with colours. Read the book and encourage the child to join in by repeating after you or the child reading the book back to you.
- At the end of the session, try and sing some nursery rhymes.
- Always check what your child is watching on TV or electronic devices, especially those shared with older children and adults. Try to be selective in what your child is watching; yes, children can learn from watching television, but it depends on what they are watching. Try to make sure that programmes have some educational benefit and are age specific to your child. It is difficult to control this when older children are around, as they will want to watch something that might not be appropriate for their younger siblings.
Try not to allow your child to watch television for more than two hours at one time. Allow time to play indoors or outdoors as a balance. Children can benefit from watching television, but you have to be selective as to what they are watching. Make sure that whatever they are watching has some educational benefit. For instance, programs which include, counting, learning about shapes, animals, people’s differences, teaching them important lessons such as sharing, caring, and forgiving.
It’s vital for healthy development that babies and very young children learn through interacting with their environment. Children under the age of 7 should learn how to play with toys, interact with their parents, siblings, and others around them, the ‘old-fashioned way’. Human interaction, playing with toys and creative play is vital for children as it allows them to develop their social, emotional and physical skills. I strongly believe that babies and young children who don’t watch television in their first-year benefit from spending that time interacting with their environment and watching how people interact. Through watching their surroundings, they pick up heaps of information about the world which is vital to their physical, intellectual, social and emotional and language development. It is through such observations children learn how to communicate with the world around them.
An observant child, even before they are physically able, will imitate an action to achieve the desired result or will know how that action should be carried out. Children with observational skills are likely to learn quicker and easier. Many parents notice that the second child, and those who come after, often learn much quicker than their first. It is because they have somebody their own size to observe and imitate.
- Make sure that all toys at home are age appropriate and have an educational element to them. The list below is of educational toys and games for children and the whole family:
- “Where’s Wally?” books
- Abacus board for counting
- Building blocks
- Card games
- Educational and interactive children’s laptops and tablets
- Interactive educational cube
- Magnetic puzzles
- Marble maze
- Multi-functional intelligence development toys
- Picture, shapes, alphabet, animal floor puzzles
- Snakes and Ladders
- Stacking blocks or cups in different colours
- Wooden bead roller coaster activity maze or cube
- Wooden brain teaser puzzles: Ming lock brain teaser puzzle, Tangram puzzle, Oxford wooden twist games
- Wooden Railway Train Set
- Wooden Labyrinth
- Writing boards
Educational toys and games allow children to grow valuable skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, social skills and fine motor skills.
- Visit the library with your child or children. Not only can you borrow books, but you can enjoy reading sessions, meet other parents and find out about what is happening in your local area. Many useful library activities and resources are free.
- Do always allocate your child or children chores from an early age. Not only will it teach them that you should not be expected to shoulder the domestic burden alone, but doing regular chores will teach children how to become organized, take responsibility for tasks, engage in teamwork, independence, tolerance (especially if helping younger siblings), self-confidence, the satisfaction of completing a task, using their initiative and showing care and consideration by wanting to help. These are lifelong skills which should be equally encouraged for boys and girls. Below is a list of suggested chores:
- Taking dirty nappies to the bin (age 1-18)
- Tidying up toys (1-18)
- Hanging clothes (1-17)
- Putting coats, scarves, and hats away upon returning from an outing (1-18)
- Dressing and undressing (1-6)
- Folding clothes after undressing (2-18)
- Dressing younger siblings (2-18)
- Loading and unpacking the shopping (2-18)
- Helping to wash the car (2-18)
- Helping with the gardening or being responsible for parts of the garden (2-18)
- Cleaning and tidying up the living room, kitchen or bathroom (2-18)
- Laying the table before and after meal times (2-18)
- Making the bed (2-18)
- Watering the plants (2-18)
- Dusting (5-18)
- Washing the dishes (6-18)
- Hoovering (7-18)
- Always give praise to show your child that you are proud of their work and appreciate them to reinforce his or her positive behaviour.
Children grow and develop quickly. You can buy many of these types of toy second-hand in charity shops and marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay or directly from toy shops.
Most toys can teach a child a skill, but educational toys are designed specifically to teach children lifelong skills. By purposely selecting educational toys you are helping your children to learn important skills which he or she might not yet have, but also nurturing skills which he or she has already. Children learn through play: playing is one of the easiest and most fun ways for children to learn.
When buying Lego, always ensure that it is age-appropriate and has both educational and play elements to it. If you are unsure, always seek assistance when purchasing Lego products.
Always keep educational toys in a separate storage from the main toy box and put them away after their use, this way, pieces are less likely to go missing.
Carrying out chores will give children lifelong qualities and skills such as fine and gross motor skills. It will teach them how to be organized, responsible for something, and teamwork (if it’s a teamwork task), as well as becoming independent (by doing something by themselves), tolerance (when helping younger siblings), and self-confidence (when they complete a chore). It will also teach them how to use their initiative and imagination when doing something, showing due care and consideration towards others when carrying out allotted tasks. These are all lifelong skills, which should be equally encouraged for boys and girls.
Always give praise to show that you are proud of your child’s work and give a reward to reinforce their positive behaviour.
Not all children will be able to do these chores, but he or she can certainly attempt to carry them out. The starting age for some of the chores is quite low but you will be amazed at what even young children can do when they are taught and encouraged to do something.
Encourage your child, but remember it will take a long time before some of these chores are done to a reasonable standard, nonetheless, this will get the child or children familiar with doing chores and doing things for themselves.
For health and safety reasons, chores and tasks must be supervised at all times, especially those which involve very young children.
For health and safety reasons, always make sure that toys are age-appropriate and that smaller children do not play with toys that have parts which can be easily taken off and put in the mouth or nose, have sharp edges or have cords or long strings (which can cause strangulation).Children should always be supervised when they are playing with toys and games.
Make sure your home is as child-friendly as possible: buy plug guards for all your sockets, keep appliances such as toasters, kettles, electric extensions, chargers and cables as well as sharp objects, safely away from children’s reach.Avoid charging laptops and tablets in children reach.
Hazardous products such as cleaning products should be kept in lockable cupboards or high above their reach. Children love to climb and hide, so washing machines and tumble dryers should always be checked before each use and fitted with child safety locks where possible.
Children explore through their mouth and sometimes through repeating an action. While learning through imitation is good for children it can also be dangerous and sometimes fatal.
Avoid giving children tablets and laptops with internet connection while unsupervised.
Avoid children under the age of 5 watching television programmes and cartoons which contain scenes of violent nature.