GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT: FIRST YEARS AT SCHOOL

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PRIMARY / ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

When elementary school begins, a regular and “serious” course of studies, children must adapt to rules that force them to work diligently and to sacrificing their instinct and impulse to do spontaneous and physical activity.

The child will therefore have to get used to respecting rules, to stay seated and to follow an adequate discipline, this can lead to suffering linked to the fact that the teacher is not open to letting him freely do what he wants but forces him to stay seated. The figure of the teacher becomes like a sort of dictator, an unpleasant person who is no longer perceived as a substitute for the mother or the father, but as a stranger.

So the child must begin to adjust to this new relationship with an adult that is no longer a protective and parental one, but a student – teacher relationship.

One should therefore focus on using an active listening approach and me-messages instead of you-messages:

“I understand your problem, you are bored, you miss me, you would like to do whatever you want and instead they make you do boring things, it’s very difficult isn’t it?”

GROWTH OF EMPATHY AND COLLABORATION

When we talk about empathy, we refer to the message “I put myself in your shoes”.

Children learn it by example as they grow up and the parent has an empathic attitude towards them, because it makes them understand that the parent comprehends their difficulties. If a parent is able to listen to these issues and reflect them back to their child they can become more and more capable to describe their situation and to express it with less need to complain about it to make others understand it.

This process is more successful if the parent is capable of describing what they are probably feeling and why they are feeling it.  As the parent reflect these to him, the child learns how to better describe his situation.  When he succeeds, thanks to the example that the parent has given him, the child gains the possibility of using the same approach with the parent and with his classmates and play mates.

“I put myself in your shoes, you put yourself in mine and therefore we can collaborate, respecting each other”.

The relationship with classmates is built on empathy, whilst clearly describing what one feels, but then understanding and putting oneself in the shoes of the others, seeing what happens to them, and acknowledging it, the relationship becomes more collaborative. This makes social life with others much easier, and more enjoyable in all directions. It is not worth having a conflictual relationship with other children.

When parents make these exhortations to be empathetic or sensitive to others’ needs, if they are not themselves able to set a good example, they are hypocritical and make every attempt futile.

SUMMER CAMP

I suggest that children aged 6 to 11 attend summer camps where they sleep a few days away from home and away from their parents.

It is true that when children go to sleep outside for the first time, they may feel confused and a little scared of the idea of ​​not sleeping with their mother in the evening and not having access to their mother all the time. It may provoke in them a certain disorientation, but if a parent takes this step anyway, sending them to a summer camp for a week, with the possibility of communicating and the child having contact with them, this give them the feeling that the parents trust his/her ability to overcome this disorientation and this fear.

Making your child have a somewhat difficult, but not disastrous and extreme, experience is an opportunity to communicate that we have faith in them and to get them used to normal life experiences of this type which will be inevitable in their future lives.

MENTAL HEALTH & EXTRA SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Currently there is an increasing need, to protect the mental and physical health of our children, for the development of their personality, and to adapt to today’s times, to make them participate in extra-curricular activities that allow them to expand their knowledge and capabilities, to a much greater extent than was necessary in previous generations.

Exercise is essential for their physical health, but for their mental health, for my patients, I organize parenting courses describing the right approach to help develop the child’s personality in a positive way, towards the acquisition of greater autonomy and greater self-esteem that then allows them to have a positive life experience.

What does it mean to “have positive approaches” regarding the mental aspect of children?

A key thing is to have approaches that encourage self-acceptance in the child, as well as greater self-confidence.

This approach of parents towards children has never been considered in the past, in which there was an image of the child much less mature than that which exists today and the child was treated in such a way as to make it much more dependent and overprotected.

In addition, I absolutely suggest having your children carry out extra-curricular cognitive and intellectual activities such as theater, music or foreign language school, as taking children out of an overprotective family context, which makes them dependent, also has the effect of helping them be more independent, building skills that will improve their mental development.