Passion for Parenting: How to Nurture the Genius in Your Child
Get ready for the next generation of world changers
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on children or child development. These are just observations from me as a mom still experiencing and navigating the wonders of parenting.
I’ve seen it happen time and time again. I too have fallen victim to this social phenomenon. The day my baby was born, life as I knew it was never the same. My social media page turned from pictures of adventure and nights on the town to a newborn gallery overnight. Oh, and forget about family and friends ever caring about me again. Will they still visit? Yes. Are they coming to see me? Absolutely not.
Instead of fighting it, I decided a long time ago to give the people what they want. The photos and videos I post of my son on Facebook/Instagram always get the most likes and comments. I’ve even had friends tell me I’m doing so well with him that they’re going to send their future kids to me for “baby bootcamp”. I laugh it off most of the time, but sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to share my experiences as a millennial mom with a broader audience. In a perfect world, that’s exactly what I would do.
My son is two and a half now and every day I feel fulfilled just being his mother and having the opportunity to help him learn and experience life for himself. The world can be so much brighter through the eyes of a toddler.
Consider this the first step to publishing a series of articles on the topic of parenting, hopefully with the help of Memberful for future content. So here are five tips to nurture the genius in your baby.
1. Make eye contact
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but in this age of technology and spending hours each day on our phones, computers, and tablets, it can be easy to tune people out, especially our little ones. Making eye contact when speaking not only helps them feel more connected to you, but it helps them gain attention skills. I remember the first time my son asked if I could put my phone down and pay attention to him. I felt so bad! I didn’t think he even noticed, but he did. We can all work on our attention spans, so go ahead and give those phones a rest.
P.S. The only exception to this rule is when you are trying to put your baby to sleep. NEVER and I mean never make eye contact. They will sense your weakness and forget they were ever tired.
2. Ditch the goo-goo ga-ga and just talk
I’m not suggesting that you get rid of your entire baby vocabulary, like cute pet names or abbreviated versions of words, but I think we can all collectively agree that some of the gibberish we speak to babies isn’t doing them any favors. They are like little sponges and before they can ever speak, they are listening to every word you say and internalizing the sound and context of how you use the words. It’s fascinating, really. I personally enjoy having conversations with my son. Most of the time he has much more exciting things to say than my adult counterparts.
3. Use flashcards early and often
I've been going over number flashcards with my son since he was one and a half years old. We started with just the numbers 1,2, and 3. At first like most children (or adults for that matter), he shunned away from it because no one likes doing things they don’t understand. However, we stayed consistent and before you knew it, he not only could recognize the numbers, but was excited to sit down and learn. We clapped and cheered for him each time he got it right for positive reinforcement. His love for learning encourages me to never be afraid of learning something new or challenging. Besides, you're never too old for flashcards.
4. Take walks outside
One day when I decided to take my son (who was 6 months at the time) outside for a walk, I noticed he was intently looking up at the sky. At that moment I came to the sad realization that I never look UP. I was always so focused on getting from point A to point B, I didn’t take the time to observe the environment around me. My son loves to be outside and point out everything he recognizes from the sky and trees to the birds and the bees. He even loves to sit and watch the rain from his window. For somebody like me who is a homebody, he reminds me it’s always a good idea to get some fresh air.
5. Encourage activities that develop motor skills
It’s so important to expose your baby to a variety of activities while they’re young. It allows you as a parent to see where their interests lie and what their strengths are. More importantly, if you choose the right activities, it will help them learn crucial fine and gross motor skills. Some examples include typing, coloring, swimming, dancing, and anything that helps develop balance.
Thank you to my son for rekindling my curiosity of the world and allowing me to see things with child-like eyes. I hope you allow your children to do the same for you.