Parents always want the best for their children. Always. But as we know, we are also not perfect. We commit mistakes, we try and sometimes we fail, and then we try again.
On top of other things we need to do for our kids, it is also to ensure they are on tracke with their development. During their first year, we carefully check and monitor their monthly milestones to make sure they are growing well.
Here are some fundamental factors that greatly impact a child’s development during their formative years:
8 parenting mistakes that can affect child development
1. Not getting a restful sleep
We often heard while growing up, “Pag hindi ka natulog, hindi ka tatangkad.” And as it turns out, our parents were right all along in terms of sleep and physical development. Adequate and restful sleep is important in a child’s physical growth and development.
During deep sleep slumber, the body repairs tissues, releases growth hormones, and consolidates memories.
Ria Campos Lopez, Positive Parenting and Baby Sleep Expert and member of Smart Parenting’s Board of Experts shared the importance of sleep in children, “Our babies need a lot of sleep. So generally, for all children, we want them to sleep 10 to 12 hours at night, and depending on the baby’s age, we need them to nap in the day as well.”
She also added, “When our children don't get enough sleep or kulang sila sa tulog, it actually looks like they're hyper and go, go, go sila. So some parents will say, ah, okay lang, my child is still active. Hindi pa yan kailangan ng tulog. But our child's body is running on adrenaline. So it's our job as parents to say, 'That's a lot of activity. I need my child to sleep.' And then we set the environment for them.”
Lopez reminds, “The better the naps are, or the better they sleep during the day and during the night, the better the quality of their sleep will be moving forward. So it's the opposite. If they don't sleep well, they will continue not to sleep well. So people think, kasi if I tell my child, ah, sige, huwag mo na yan ipa-nap, or, oh, sleep late na, that mas mahimbing yung tulog nila, it doesn't happen. The later the bedtime, mas mahirap patulugin. So an early bedtime and naps at the right time according to your child's age are very important,” Lopez said.
2. No outdoor activities.
Pankaj Kumar Singh, Education Specialist, MD of Cambridge Montessori Pre-school said to The Times of India, “Establishing a consistent outdoor play schedule and creating a comfortable growth environment that significantly impacts a child’s physical health, cognitive abilities, and overall behavior.”
According to Raising Children, physical activity has many benefits for kids, including:
- strengthens children’s bones, muscles, hearts and lungs
- improves children’s coordination, balance, posture and flexibility
- helps children maintain a healthy weight
- boosts children’s immune systems
- reduces the risk of children developing high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, anxiety and depression.
Outdoor activities don’t need to be as grand as camping in the mountains or hiking. It may be as simple as walking outside, watching the sunset, or observing trees and plants.
3. Not eating a balanced diet.
Though children’s eating habits are pretty challenging to tackle, our role as parents is to ensure that we provide our kids with a healthy and balanced diet.
The same publication says, “Adequate nutrition provides vital vitamins, minerals, and proteins that support healthy growth, strengthen bones, and promote optimal organ function. Emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins instills healthy eating habits from an early age, setting the stage for a lifetime of vitality and wellness.”
In a previous Smart Parenting article, one of the tips for instilling healthy eating habits in kids is, “Don’t completely restrict your kids from having their favorite treats—however, make sure to still feed them healthy food more often.”
4. Irregular physical activity.
Pankaj Kumar Singh also said, “Engaging in age-appropriate exercises enhances muscle strength, flexibility, and overall physical fitness. Physical activities also promote cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of obesity, and release endorphins that bolster mood and emotional well-being.”
In another Smart Parenting article, a study suggested that 20 minutes of exercise 3 times a week can make a child healthier. Although the research indicated basketball, boxing, dancing, and soccer, it is also suggested that simple activities that require physical movement will do the trick. You can dance with your child inside the house, play bunny hops, and even outdoor games like patintero.
5. Exceeding screen time.
Screen time is often tagged as the ‘bad guy’, and the publication reiterates that exceeding screen time can halt the child’s development. Letting the kids watch within guided and reasonable times won’t harm, but too much of anything can be harmful.
Increased screen time is a concern for most parents. Rather than letting them watch all day, allowing them to embrace physical activity instills a love for movement and establishes a solid foundation for a lifelong commitment to an active lifestyle.
Want to know if your child has too much screen time? Check this article.
6. No cognitive stimulation.
Kids are naturally curious about everything that’s going on around them, and as their primary caregiver, it is also our responsibility to ‘tick their curiosity’.
This means we need to give them enough cognitive stimulation using engaging activities, exploration, and learning experiences that activate neural connections. It is also important to give them activities to practice their fine motor skills, according to their age. Examples of activities that stimulate their brain function are puzzles, building blocks, and arts and crafts that foster hand-eye coordination and dexterity.
7. Poor emotional support.
We may think that children don’t need emotional support but on the contrary, they need it as much as we do. An environment that shows support and love triggers the release of hormones that help children’s growth and development. In addition to this, positive nurturing without stress also ensures healthy digestion and immune function.
8. No social interaction.
After experiencing a global pandemic first-hand, parents' anxiety about letting our kids go out may still linger at the back of our minds. But as the publication suggests, not letting our kids have enough social interaction can do more harm than good for them.
Singh said, “Meaningful social interactions play a pivotal role in a child’s physical development. Engaging with peers and adults and group play activities allows children to develop essential social skills, empathy, and emotional intelligence.”