Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Special Report -

In re­cent years, sci­en­tists have found out a lot more about how the hu­man brain de­vel­ops. It turns out that it’s not un­til we’re in our mid-20s that our brains are fully ma­ture. It takes that long for us to be able to make fully ‘adult’ choices about risk or to con­trol our im­pulses. Chil­dren can’t con­trol all their im­pulses, nor al­ways pay at­ten­tion. They can’t al­ways re­mem­ber what they’ve been told to do. It’s not un­til a child is around five to six years that these abil­i­ties even start to de­velop. So when chil­dren play up, they’re not usu­ally set­ting out to be de­lib­er­ately naughty, they just don’t have the brain ca­pac­ity to re­mem­ber all the things they’re not meant to do, or enough con­trol to re­sist grab­bing your phone/ throw­ing that toy/bounc­ing on that bed. Get­ting an­gry won’t help, but pa­tiently en­cour­ag­ing ‘good’ be­hav­iour will (slowly) start to sink in. So why not start to­day?

One of the most im­por­tant words within the pos­i­tive par­ent­ing ap­proach is ‘re­spect’. This works both ways: it’s about par­ents hav­ing re­spect for their chil­dren, and chil­dren learn­ing re­spect for oth­ers. “It’s also vi­tal for chil­dren to have bound­aries,” says Amy. “Fam­i­lies need to have rules and chil­dren need to be clear about what those rules are, from a very early age, be­cause that gives them struc­ture and rou­tine. “Chil­dren, par­tic­u­larly in­fants, thrive on struc­ture and rou­tine be­cause those things help them to un­der­stand life. They know what to ex­pect, and that helps to make them feel se­cure. And when chil­dren feel se­cure they usu­ally tend to be­have well.” It’s best to have be­tween three and five sim­ple rules that you con­sis­tently ap­ply.

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