7 Ways to Know Your Child

How well do you really know your child?

There is so much information at our fingertips to learn more about a child's personality, 'behaviorisms' and intelligence. Of course, we want to be the best parent we can, and so we read all the information. And some of it is great! Take the four different temperaments . . . I can see my child in one, but then I turn the page and I see him in another temperament ? it all depends on the day or even the time of day!

I used to spend a lot of time looking at ways to give labels to my children. I thought that if I could just find the word that would sum them up, parenting would become so much easier. When child number three came along, I just didn't have the time to be searching for someone else's opinion about the type of child he was. I don't want any label other than his name used on him. This kind of parental confidence can be hard to find. We seem to be knocked off balance every time we read a newspaper ? you know, another piece of research, another thing we are doing wrong. But you are the one to understand and know your child the best. And this knowledge will teach you how to interact and support your own, individual child.

Seven Ways to Know Your Child Better

1. Observe your child: That's right. Just back off and actually watch them. Watch them at play, at work and while they are reading.

2. Allow your child to discovery their tendencies: Does your child, given the opportunity, rush to the Lego box, or maybe to the pile of books or to the art supplies. Find out what your child chooses to do ? it is probably this that they are good at!

3. Take lots of photographs: In this age of digital photography, it doesn't matter how many photographs we take, because we needn't print or keep them all. Photographs provide an excellent memory of what your child does ? and you will probably notice things you hadn't before.

4. Let your child dictate stories to you: Many children enjoy the art of storytelling, but find actual handwriting tiresome. Take this strain away from them by being their secretary. You'll be surprised at how your child's brain works when they create their stories.

5. Create a journal: Now, this doesn't need to be a work of art! Have a blank scrapbook and write in it, get them to draw pictures, glue in certificates and photographs.

6. Trust your instincts: Teachers may give you a wider understanding of your child ? take it on board ? but remember that your instincts are probably right.

7. Talk often with your child: Make sure you let your child lead a conversation with you every day. If you are the one that holds all the information and knowledge in your house, your child will be less likely to share with you. Let them joke, let them explore their emotions and let them just babble away.

Marilynn McLachlan, Author REAL parenting in the REAL world Author of "The New Parent Code: 12 Vital Clues for Achieving Modern Family Sanity", Penguin Books, 2005.

Visit http://www.marilynnmclachlan.com to sign up for her free fortnightly e-zine.

In The News:

Parenting Kids in the Age of Screens, Social Media and Digital Devices  Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project
The Real Work of Parenting a Rare Girl  The Wall Street Journal
The Case Against Tickling  The New York Times
‘They Go to Mommy First’  The New York Times
What Are Pandemic School Pods?  The New York Times

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