Children pass through four development phases. Parents do best when they purposely adjust their emotions, skills, strategies, and intentions accordingly.
INFANCY. Good infant development depends on calm and unconditional mother-love and smother-love. Mother takes excellent care and continually showers the infant with attention, affection, and appreciation. Plus, she tries to ensure the absence of personality harshness, shocking noises, and other disruptions that may not shock but are too much to program the child’s heart with calmness. You instinctively know all that, but did you know that self-esteem is ‘hard-wired’ in infancy? However well the infant is treated with superb care and adoration determines how well they value themselves throughout life.
The calmer and better the mother’s performance, the higher the self-esteem that develops in the infant’s subconscious mind. Father-love works best in infancy when it copies mother-love. Infancy ends when the toddler’s conscious mind opens in the third year and he or she becomes aware that they too are an individual person. In each child’s heart, their adventurous life turns to self-development. They wish for more out of life and girls hope and boys aim to produce much of it themselves.
THE ‘WEANS’ OF TODDLERHOOD — Mother weans the child away from her constant attention, endless affection, and unconditional appreciation. The toddler is weaned away from dependence on mom toward the independence and adventure of first grade. Nurturing continues but smother-love fades away in favor of proactively demonstrating unconditional respect of boys and unconditional appreciation of girls.
The most significant event in toddlerhood is that a child’s self-development begins. They are confronted with parental support or objections, and the groundwork is laid for their becoming troublesome children or not. The ‘weans’ end when the child settles proudly into first grade, enabled to proceed to work on their own without mom’s oversight. Mom’s nurturing should end except for self-development eruptions and disappointments in the child’s heart or mind.
THE ‘TWEENS’ BEFORE PUBERTY — Mom should give up what she does best and what keeps her happy and satisfied that she’s doing well. In the course of everyday events, mom’s nurturing should fade away except when needed to restore a child’s confidence, settle emotional turmoil, or smooth out other disruptions in the child’s self-development. As mother’s role weakens, father’s role becomes vital. Leadership supersedes nurturing. Mature adult examples outshine words. Children learn to admire and choose to aspire to become adults. Not for what parents do or have but for what the child envisions he or she can do as an adult after having observed models and options in parents.
The tweens are critical in this way. If children are enabled to self-develop, they seek to copy admirable adults. If they don’t aspire to duplicate mature adult examples, they look elsewhere for behavioral examples and immaturely seek to copy peers and celebrities. What and whom they copy determine their adult life.
THE TEENS — Nurturing has no business in the teens. It embarrasses children. They are adult-like in their minds and firmly planted in self-development. Mom’s nurturing and dad’s lectures may be heard but not heeded. Both nurturing and close supervision are out of place among teens because they envision themselves as adult-capable. (I remind to extend teen years to the age proven through cultural history and traditionally used. Adult maturity arrives closer to age 21 than any other year in life.)
Coaching works best. It shows respect for the child, recognizes their adult-capability, and reinforces a child’s ability to make good choices. When poor or bad choices are made, parental empathy helps develop maturity by signifying the teen is responsible. OTOH, parental sympathy helps develop immaturity by signifying that the teen may not be responsible. It’s the subtlety and indirectness of coaching that makes it more effective with teens.
To match the child development stages, parents can use these strategies. Infancy calls for great nurturing. The weans call for proactively showing respect for boys and appreciation and importance of girls. The tweens call for leadership by example by both parents with father’s being the most indirectly influential and mother’s the most directly influential. After puberty coaching works best.
In each stage, the over supervision of boys and the lack of appreciation of girls slow or harm their development.