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The Ingredients of a Rich Childhood

Mealtimes as a sacred time

Mealtimes can be a sacred family tradition, and a time to catch up with everyone after a busy day. Even with babies, having meals at the table is a moment of role modelling of what it is to be a family, and the importance of good food for our bodies. Good quality whole food is a value that was important to me, and I would involve my children in the cooking of meals and preparing the dinner table. I talked to them a lot about what is good food, that helps their bodies be strong and fast.

Rest time/Quiet time

Rhythms/cycles are an innate part of what it is to be human. Cycles of weather, seasons, daytime, nighttime, activity and rest. Children thrive when these cycles are respected and encouraged in our daily routines. There is a time to play and time to rest, like breathing in and breathing out. We need both.

I modelled this to my youngest son James. In the middle of the day, we would both get ready for rest time. I would meditate with my earphones on, and he would rest either on my lap, or close by on a little mattress. He would often try to distract me, and I would say, ‘no, rest time now.’ After a while he gave up and would just settle into quiet play or even have a sleep himself. I kept that habit for years – and James had a natural respect for my quiet time. When he was seven or so, he would meditate on the way to school. At 14, he has no interest anymore but he certainly knows what it is to meditate.

Play time – keeping children active and in their body.

It is so important that children’s play involves their whole body. Their brains need movement and play to create lots of connections in their brain.

Too much screen time will inhibit this development and can lead to learning problems further down the track. Play is the work of childhood.

Alone time

People who naturally need time alone, are called introverts. One of the superpowers of the introverts is a rich inner world, where they have time to daydream, and explore possibilities. This is something available to all of us. Cultivating alone time, is the beginning of this inner adventure. Some children have a natural affinity for this; however, I think we all need to carve out the space. Children who are overscheduled will be missing out on a rich part of childhood.

Children love Adventure.

One of the biggest inhibitors for children being adventurous is our own fear that they will get hurt. Exploring and adventuring is one of those superpowers that builds character and confidence. It is a sad thing that children no longer roam the streets in packs and get up to different forms of adventure. You will hear many stories from the older generations of things they would get up to. Many a life lesson can be learnt young when children are not continually being overshadowed by the concerns of their loving parents. How can you create more opportunities for your children to have adventures?

Children are naturally curious

Curiosity is so undervalued and yet it remains the key ingredient for personal growth. Those beings that have achieved great things in their lives, always started with this attribute.

How curious are you?

How can you foster curiosity in your children?

Imagination and Creativity are the seeds of powerful intelligence.

We tend to think we are either creative or not. We are all creators, it just looks different, and we need to move away from the definition of creativity as being art/ music and include all forms of creation.

Fostering creativity can start with some simple changes in our parenting.

    • Have a range of toys that foster creativity (art materials, dress up, recycled rubbish, puppets, construction toys like lego, an interesting yard that has different spaces for different play)
    • Limit screen time. This is one of the biggest inhibitors to creativity for young children. They become passive recipients to someone else’s creativity.
    • Nature play, exploring, climbing, digging – and where possible let them free range.
    • Children need free time. When they say they are bored – let them be bored, it’s the first step in creation.
    • Follow your own creativity and role model what it is to be creative.

Storytelling

This speaks to our soul and enables our inner world to create the images and feelings that go with an experience of listening to a story. The old tales that have lived through the ages contain a rich narrative of the human condition and can start to guide our soul through the more treacherous experiences of life. Your children love to hear stories, your stories, their stories, and ancient mythological stories – everyone loves a good story.

Rituals

Rituals are those moments in time we bring a certain significance to. They break up our days, weeks, months and years and are the stuff or sweet memories for our children. Traditionally families had many rituals, usually through religion or culture. With our eclectic diverse culture, we are at risk of losing traditions, or the meaning behind them. We may have decided old rituals do not reflect the values we hold dear, but then don’t think about what to replace them with. Days will turn into weeks, months and years without any moments that are different from the everyday job of living.

Rituals live deep inside of us, particularly when they involve people we love or moments of reverence and reflection. Our worlds are busy and very noisy and don’t often leave room for stopping and focusing on something much bigger than our daily activities.

What rituals did you grow up with?

Daily? Yearly?

What would you like to keep and what are you doing differently?

What new rituals would you like to bring in?

Put some time into thinking what values are important to your family and the rituals that reflect this.

Enjoy a rich life with your children. Tx

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