Learning how to take care of your child

Basic facts to learn in rearing your child to maturity

Through the centuries many strange beliefs, called "old wives' tale," have grown up about children. Most of these ideas have been found to be in direct contradiction to scientific truths. It it were not for the continuing beleifs in these tales they could be regarded as curiosities of the past and not taken seriously.

During the past hundred years, studies of children have been made on such a wide scale that they have touched every aspect of the chld's life. Through these studies, we have learned many basic facts about how children grown up and develop. Parents and teachers who know and the information can help children reach maturity as well-adjusted, competent citizens. Parents who disregard the facts rear problem children to a troubled adult life.

Basic Facts in Child Development

1) The child is not a miniature adult

Look at any child and you will see that his body is not just a small copy of an adult's body. His proportions are different and he lacks many of the features of mature people. Mentally he is different also. Until he is an adult, adult behavior and standards cannot be expected of him.

2) Children both grow and develp

Growth means increase in size. Development, by contrast, means a progressive series of changes in proportions, physical features, and behavior. While the child is growing in stature, he is also developing a mature mind and body.

3) Childhood is the foundation of life

The foundations laid in childhood determine what a person will be in adult life, both physically, and mentally. Traits acquired in early childhood - both desirable and undesirable - are likely to persist. Many parents make the mistake of thinking that undesirable traits will be "outgrown" and that some experience "doesn't count" because the child is so little. Children do not outgrow undesirable traits. On the contrary, most of them persist practically unchanged into old age, although they may be then be cloaked in more mature and subtle disguises. This, of course, does not mean that traits can never be changed. They can be, but only when a person has a strong desire to change and knowledge of how to bring the change about.

4) Each child is different

Partly because of heredity and partly because of environment, each child is a distinct and different individual. One cannot treat all children alike and hope to get the same results.

5) Development comes from maturation and learning

Maturation is the unfolding of hereditary traits not fully developed at birth. This is nature's foundation. On it the child must build, through learning, the physical and mental abilities needed for successful living. Learning cannot take place until te foundation are laid. The child cannot, for example, learn to feed himself until his muscles have reached a certain stage of development and his nervous system has matured to the point where coordination movements of hand and arm are possible. Any attempt to teach a child to do something before he is ready to learn it is doomed to failure. Moreover, such attempts discourage the child and make later learning at the right age difficult.

7) Development is rythmic, not regular

Physically and mentally, the child grows and develop by fits and starts. The brain, for example, reaches nearly its mature size by the time the child is six or seven years old, but the internal development of the nerve centers is not complete until the late teens or early twenties. The development pattern also is rhythmic, not regular. At a given time one ability may be acquired fast while another is deveoping very slowly.