Can you imagine what it would be like to live in world made for people three times your own size? How challenging would it be to wash your hands or turn on a light switch? This is how the world is seen through the eyes of a young child. They are constantly looking up, literally, to the adults in their lives.
When you give a child the tools to succeed, he will try his best. Today I saw a child fall out of a chair at Starbucks because he was moving his body to the beat of the music playing (he was just fine, by the way, and picked himself up and danced around the coffeeshop.) He would have had an easier time in a chair made to fit his body. I imagine it would be fun to scoot around in a giant chair, a child’s natural inclination, yet the adult’s first instinct is to say, “sit still!”
Children have a natural desire to learn and to do what they see others doing. They are absorbing knowledge like sponges at every moment and opportunity. Before entering preschool, the world is their classroom and parents their first teachers.
The home is where your family spends many hours, so it’s important to set your child up for success in his home environment. I suggest the following four steps to make it easier for your child to help himself.
1. Bend down, at your knees, to your child’s eye level and make eye contact when speaking with him. Communication is more successful with children when they are focused on the person speaking to them.
2. Give your child a step stool, a sturdy one that can be easily carried by a child. A house can’t be custom-made for adults and children, so this tool is critical in making your the toilet, the sink, the kitchen counter, and everything else accessible to your little helper.
3. Put a mirror somewhere your child can see it. Children love to see their reflection, and if their face is dirty, a warm wet washcloth and a gentle reminder to check in the mirror will do wonders for a child’s confidence in taking care of himself.
4. Store place settings somewhere your child can access them and help set the table for meals. When you’re rushing around getting dinner ready, your child wants to be a part of the action and help! Give him the tools to get involved with helping by setting the table.
It’s important to include your child when you make any changes to your home. When you make him a part of it, he feels more at ease with the changes and takes ownership of his environment. Make your home more accessible to your child’s body as it grows. And make it fun! Imagine the world through a child’s eyes.