Understanding your child’s love affair with the world

Nathaniel enjoys riding a toy cart in a grocery store.

Between the age of eighteen months and three years old, your child’s compulsion to explore reaches its peak. It is also during this time that his exploratory impulse begins the process of differentiation which is the first step towards becoming a self, distinct from his parents. His ability to take this step depends a lot on how he was strongly attached to anything or anyone.

That is why the importance of making your child to have successfully maintained connection with you should never be ignored or belittled, as this will serve as the basic elements that fuel his interests in exploring and connecting with the world around him. Some parents may come to view it as the age of aggression while the child-rearing folklore calls this particular stage of a baby’s life as the “terrible twos.” Parents during this stage will have to practice letting go but yet, not letting go too much.

In order to protect your child from danger or physical harm and to increase the comfort of the parents, boundaries should be set. The secure child, to give it a best mental picture, emerges from the parent’s cocoon. Your child still wants you to be around, so that if he ever needs to, he can come rushing back for safety.

Attachment is one of the essential elements of a person’s being. Throughout life, there is a great need for every person to belong to someone or something. A more mature or evolved form of the attachment bond can be seen later in a person’s life.

If the toddler feels so secure in the presence of his parents, he can wander away to explore the world. One of the things he may discover through such a stage of exploration is the power of words. During this exploration stage, what a child requires most is a parent who can provide support and encouragement.

Once a parent provides support, safety, and structure, he or she affirms his or her child’s impulse to explore during this stage. To provide safety means providing physical and emotional safety at all times. A parent should see to it that he or she is communicating clear boundaries and, while giving his or her child the opportunity to explore, also guide him away from dangerous objects.

Giving support could mean that a parent is supporting his or her child’s urge to explore his environment. He or she should be saying a “yes” as often as possible while, at the same time, preserving structure and values. A parent must be consistently warm and available which is to take time to allow the child to satisfy his curiosity and share it.

In providing a structure, parents should look for opportunities to help the child to learn about himself and his environment. Parents should be using clear instructions and to avoid as much as they can and as much as possible the absolutes and abstractions. A parent must focus on what his or her child has done correctly rather than on what he does incorrectly.

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