Parents must guide children as an ongoing process. Children need guidance at all stages of their lives.
Key Benefits When You Guide Children
- Children become respected members of society.
- Children develop positive relationships with others.
- Children develop the required social and emotional skills.
Mamie Gene Cole sketches in "Child Appeal":
I am the child
You hold in your hand my destiny
You determine largely, whether I succeed or fail
Give me, I pray you, those things that make for happiness
Train me, I beg you, that I may be a blessing to the world.
How Can You Guide Children?
There are basically three ways you can guide children. They are physical, verbal and affective.
Physical guidance involves the process of guiding your child by touching him, leading the way, demonstrating things to him and playing with him. Some aspects of physical guidance involves the following:
- Hold the child’s hand when you give him directions and provide him with reassurance.
- Maintain eye level with the child and use meaningful gestures for communication.
- Make maximum use of body language. This can help the child feel competent and comfortable.
- Remove the child from an inconducive atmosphere.
- Illustrate to the child the behaviour or skill that you want him to follow.
- Offer varying levels of assistance based on the child’s need.
As the name implies, verbal guidance involves guiding your child using words. Interaction with your child by talking to him forms the key source for this kind of guidance. Some aspects of verbal guidance include the following:
- Talk to your child using eye-to-eye contact. Avoid looking away from him.
- Always use positive statements to give your child instructions. For example, tell him “Eating your food keeps you healthy.”. Do not say “If you do not eat your food, you will fall sick.”
- Keep instructions short and simple. Consider saying “Wear your coat. You will not feel cold.” instead of saying “If you wear only your sleeveless top and do not wear a coat, you will feel cold and uncomfortable.
- When the child communicates his feelings, ideas and concepts, give him uninterrupted attention. Do not talk in between. Answer his questions only after you have heard them fully.
- Make sure that your child really needs the directions you give him. Avoid giving him directions for things that he can do well by himself. Observe your child to find out the instances when and where he needs directions.
- Do not bombard your child with more than two directions at a time. Avoid directions like “Bring me your book, go to the room, keep your toys in their place and then come for lunch”. This can frustrate him.
- Tell him the consequence part of his misbehaviour along with your instructions. You can tell him “Do not hit your friend with your toy. If you do so, I will take it away”.
- If you give your child choices, make it clear to him whenever you are not going to give him one.
- When requesting your child to do something, give logical and accurate reasons to substantiate this. For example, you may tell him “Please eat your food soon so that we have more time to read a story together.”.
- Be consistent when you set limits. Ensure that you adhere to the limits. For instance if you have told him that you will not get him chocolates when you are shopping, stick to it. Do not give in if he tries to win you by crying for one.
- Assure your child that you love him and will care for him always. Make him understand that you will be there to help him whenever he needs it.
- If your child performs a task extremely well, praise him for it. Tell him that it was a wonderful achievement.
- If you think that certain factors might hinder with good behaviour from your child, think of alternatives for him to follow.
- Give your child examples which help him find different ways to solve a problem.
- Set goals for your child and motivate him to achieve them.
- Never compare him with other children. For example do not tell him, “See how well Hari draws a picture. Why don't you try to draw like him?”.
Affective guidance involves following most of the concepts of verbal guidance. In addition to just oral instructions, parents also display emotions or feelings in an attempt to influence the child towards positive behaviour. The aim of this guidance is to help the child gain a positive self-concept. Some aspects of affective guidance include the following:
- Give your child positive regard and make sure this is spontaneous. As you see him working at a puzzle, tell him “I see you have fixed a few pieces. I am sure you will be able to complete it.”
- Attend to your child's needs and wants before he demands them. For example, if you observe that your child sucks his thumb when he is hungry and that this happens around the same time each day, you can give him his lunch at that time every day before he starts sucking his thumb.
- Eliminate any negative thoughts you may have about your child such as him being a slow learner by trying to pay more attention to your child. This observation can help you understand your child better.
- If your child follows your instructions, give him positive feedback. For example if he cleans his room after playing when you tell him to do so, consider saying “I see you have kept your toys inside their box. Good job.”
Remember that you may find that you have to use a combination of all three methods to guide children successfully.