Your child is not just cute!
Your child is not just cute, he/she has an amazing brain. From when children are born to about age six, the mind is like a sponge, soaking up numerous amounts of information from their environment. From what they hear to what they see, they absorb even the tiniest information, good or bad. And as they become older, all this information they have soaked form part of their behavioural pattern.
That is why we as parents and guardians must be intentional about the kind of information our children see and hear.
Sometimes parents are too focused on those little giggles and cute baby talk that they forget to be mindful of the company they keep or the words they hear. And I’m not just talking about parental control on phones. I’m talking about filtering all sources of information. From the kind of music they listen to, to the conversations you have around them, and the homes your child frequently visits on play dates.
Here are a few ways you can filter the information your child gains access to;
- Get parental control on televisions and other smart gadgets: Parental controls allow you to manage what your child sees on the internet. The parental control can also block features of games your kids can access. That is especially useful when you hand your child your phone to play games or watch cartoons.
- Get to know your children’s friends and their families: Encourage your child to make friends and on play dates. But, you should take extra caution to get to know the parents of the children your child would spend a lot of time around. Visit them and invite the moms on a spa day if need be. While you are at it, seize the opportunity to start conversations and connect on a deeper level. You want to ensure that while your child is at a friend’s house, he is not allowed to view shows that aren’t age-appropriate.
- Properly vet the babysitters and home tutors: Children don’t learn from their parents only. They also learn from people around them–the housekeepers, home tutors and nannies. Before hiring a home tutor or babysitter, ensure you ask relevant questions. Ask them about their experience with other children. Also, let them know your stance concerning the music and movies your child is permitted to listen to or watch. If possible, hire sitters and tutors from reputable agencies.
- Keep the room locked during “adult time”: We have heard and seen many situations of children walking in on their parents having sex countless times and imitating the act with friends, without even knowing the implication. Children do not need to see their parents having sex. When you have a ‘private moment’ with your partner, please keep the doors locked.
- Have adult conversations privately: Sometimes, we get carried away when we converse with our friends and forget our children are there. It’s okay to have adult conversations but not in front of your child. And if you must have an adult conversation in the presence of your child, please keep it age-appropriate. Leave out the vulgar and swear words. You might think your child isn’t listening, but they are. You don’t want them repeating every word of a conversation you hoped they didn’t hear.
- Don’t use ‘swear’ words around your child: If you often use ‘swear’ words like ‘shit’ or ‘fuck’ around your child, don’t be surprised when a teacher invites you to a meeting because your child used those words at school. Children mimic what you say all the time. They do so because they are trying to learn how communication works. They may even copy your tone and try to use those words in conversations. Using curse words is not the most appropriate behaviour for children to mimic.
Children don’t start learning when they go to school. Learning begins from the womb, where they start to recognise words. We do know that they also learn from passive stimulation such as TV – and through watching the activities of other children and adults. It is your duty as a parent or guardian to protect your child from accessing information that is not appropriate for their age.
Remember, your children learn from you too. Be a good example to emulate.