Letting Little Hands
I'm in the very best stage of parenting: It's called grandparenting.
My three children have given me seven grandchildren all under
the age of seven, and most are under the age of three. They
live in various parts of the country and quite often they all
come to visit at once. It's always an adventure.
Of course I'm always interested
in their intellectual development, and I find it fascinating
to watch them as they encounter new things and then decide
what they are for. Since they are my grandchildren, I have
the luxury of indulging them. But the best gift I can give
them is to just say "yes" when
they make a new discovery. Having several toddlers and infants
over at once makes the message of the need for preventive "child-proofing" sound
loud and clear. When it's four, five, six, or seven pairs of
small hands reaching and touching everything they see, it's
obvious that there is no room for ambiguity. We've got to keep
those children safe and happy and provide them with an environment
from which they can learn.
A child's curiosity is what drives them to learn. Parents
need to encourage them to explore and find answers on their
own from the time they are crawling and grasping things and
on throughout their lives. It may be easier to just keep everything
out of reach, but it is not the best thing for your child.
With the holidays all but here,
I suggest that anyone who has children at home or will be
visited by small children do some immediate observation and
see what needs to be put away. Then I recommend you take
one step further. Look around for what you can put within
the children's reach and furnish your home with safe "treasures" that they can discover.
Instead of having to tell them "no," when they reach
for an object, you can relax and say, "Yes, you may play
with that." This is especially true for children who are
beyond the grab and destroy stage, three or four years old
Do you have a collection of photos from your travels? Leave
it where your child can discover it on his or her own, and
then cuddle up and share some of your favorite stories about
the places you've been. Have you kept any toys from when you
were young? Your child may be intrigued with a toy that doesn't
actually use batteries or have to be plugged in, and isn't
some kind of alien monster.
With my oldest grandchild (she's
seven) I can say "yes" to
a lot of different things. If it's just her and me, we can
have dessert before (and after) dinner. We can stay up as late
as we want, or escape from the babies and have a grown-up excursion.
It's really not that important what we do, just as long as
she leads the way.#