Parenting To Make Your Child The Best They Can Be.

Last week I attended the opening of the “Sibahle Collection” store at Ferndale Village Shopping Centre in Randburg. I found a happy space for my 2-year-old daughter! Sibahle Collection has adorable brown dolls in different sizes and merchandise that includes bedding, backpacks and party packs. Whilst there I spoke to one of the co-founders, Mrs. Khulile Ofosu, on what inspired the business. But what sparked the idea for today’s column was when she casually mentioned that her daughter who turned 4 years-old in February is able to read, albeit not fluently, but she recognizes her letters and can read most simple words, write the letters and her name) and do basic mathematical addition and subtraction sums (although in her mind is taking away from and adding to).

I found this intriguing because the majority of children in SA start on math sums and reading properly when they start Grade R when they are 6-years-old. I thought I should share what she says they do to give their daughter a head-start in being the best she can be. Below are the parenting guidelines that the Ofosu’s follow:

  • When I was pregnant with my daughter I had to have a lot of bed rest and this gave me a lot of time to read. My husband and are readers and we found this book by Lise Eliot – What’s going on in there? Which basically talks about how the brain and mind of a child develops in the first five years of life. Lise is a professor of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School. The book sheds light into the ins of brain development, etc. The gist of it though is that from birth to 5 years, you can/should expose a child to as much as you can and the brain is capable of absorbing as much information as possible during this stage of brain development. This does not mean putting pressure on your child and forcing stuff in, it means EXPOSURE and the child will take what they can and leave what they cannot take in.
  • What has worked for us:

  • From day 1, my husband and I did not speak “baby-language” to our daughter. Well, maybe I did a bit, but I would say 95% of the time we spoke to her properly. We call things their proper names, we use meaningful gestures, we put words to feelings, we explain why we do certain things, why certain things are good and why some are not, we use every second as a teaching moment. This does take a lot of commitment though for parents to be consistent and stay the course. It is EXHAUSTING!! But it soon becomes second nature.
  • From day 1, we read to her, as a result she cannot go to bed without reading a book first. She loves books.
  • From day 3 or 4 when we got home, we introduced routine. As a result when she was 3 months old, she started sleeping through. Which somehow has regressed. But for the first 2 to 3 years of her life she was a great sleeper.
  • She only started having screen time when she turned 2 and even then it was extremely limited to a few minutes a week (as in a few minutes, not more than 20 minutes for the whole week). After turning 3 we increased screen time (TV, iPad) to 2-3 hours per week and only on weekends. She does not even ask for TV during the week as she is used to her Sat / Sun TV and iPad time.
  • We do not spank, although I have been tempted many times too. We try and reason, but this is NOT easy at all. Again its one of those things that you have to commit to and do.
  • We do have tantrums like everyone else and meltdowns, but we have learnt when such occur and try not to enable them. Having said that, kids are kids, they will surprise you at the most inopportune moments.
  • We struggle a lot with opinions. She feels she has to have an opinion on everything when sometimes as a parent you just want her to do what you want her do to. This is problematic especially culturally. So, we encourage speaking up but also put boundaries and explain why some things are just not up for discussion.
  • We do not pay for household chores. She knows there are things that she needs to do in this “rented” space of hers and she does not get compensated for those. We do praise the effort that has gone into accomplishing the task, but we never compensate for it.
  • We encourage social responsibility, which sometimes is a battle but we can see that it’s starting to sink in. As an example, when she gets new shoes, a pair has to go out to a needy child, when she gets books, the same number of her old books need to go out to a needy child.
  • We never tell her she is intelligent (which we don’t believe she is). We believe she is capable and this is what we tell her. We praise the effort and congratulate her on her achievements and this is all attributed to how well she applied herself in the task and the effort she put in.
  • We don’t use bad girl/ good girl. We use bad behaviour/good behaviour. We don’t ever want her to refer to herself as a bad girl, but rather the behaviour. We think it’s important to make this distinction.
  • We tell her she is pretty and that she is loved every day. We tell her prettiness goes with a good heart and that a pretty face fades but a good heart never fades. And that no one is ugly, but that people are different.
  • By Ntombenhle Khathwane
    CEO: AfroBotanics

    Author: admin

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