Kulit in the genes by Maricel Laxa Pangilinan
I am a proud mother of five children. It initially took a while for me and my husband, Anthony to get pregnant but we didn’t mind the wait because it gave us time to really get to know each other so that when the children came—(and the first four of our children came in five years) we were somewhat ready for them. Not quite but we managed by God’s grace and the support of able and willing helpers, friends and family members. Looking back, the initial stages were the easiest because they really didn’t require much except to be fed, changed, and put to bed. It was the toddler years that needed a lot of time and attention on our part. While parents are so eager to get their children moving, they will soon realize that this momentous time in their children’s lives will prove to be the season when adult supervision is needed the most.
When they turned three months old, my babies and I were always on the foam floor mat, which gave everyone space to move around as they wished. It was during such occasions that I had the chance to witness the first time they rolled over, crawl, sit up and eventually walk. It was a safe place for my babies, because we didn’t have to worry about them falling from a high place. I also gave them ample time to be alone in their playpen so that they could also be content with not being entertained all the time, which allowed them to learn to put themselves to sleep.
My husband, Anthony spent a great deal of time outdoors with our babies. He made them crawl on the grass, made them climb on trees and swam with them, among other things. He exposed them to pets and spent a lot of time telling them stories and singing to them. There were lots of tickle times too, especially when he’d get home from work.
Among all my children, it was Benjamin who walked the earliest at nine months old. My eldest Ella didn’t transition from walking to running. The minute she turned one, she stood and ran towards me in the playground. I remember it vividly, we were in Singapore and she just ran to me! Hannah was always just dancing and doing cartwheels and my introvert Donny would quietly sit in a corner and amuse himself with quiet play, but he turned out to be the fastest runner of his school. Our youngest, Solana was allowed to take her time and in terms of her over-all physical development, it was like a textbook kind of thing where she did what was supposed to be achieved when she reached that particular stage. It was much easier with her as, at this point, we’d already experienced parenting our first four children. We more or less knew what to expect and knew how to support her development the best way we can.
When it comes to the physical development of my children, I learned early on that:
- Children are uniquely designed in all aspects so we must respect that design. We cannot expect a bubbly child to sit in one corner to amuse herself the same way we cannot force an introverted child to go play outside to have fun with his friends. We need to respect how they have been uniquely designed and take our queue from there.
- We need to provide the environment for our children to grow. As I shared, the mat time provided space and freedom while creating boundaries for safety. Interaction with parents and loved ones allowed our children to fully utilise their developing bodies, which enabled them to grow. I cannot imagine a child who will be left to fully develop physically if confined to a small crib the whole day. Children are just not built like that. It helps when the little tots wear comfy diapers like Huggies Dry Pants that enable freedom of movement, because they need to move and explore to grow.
- Parental supervision and the presence of loved ones who are intent on bringing out the best in the child are key ingredients to growth. Children who are nurtured shine!
- Be mindful of labels. Toddlers are naturally active and always on the go. Be careful not to brand them as naughty and make them feel negative about being a child. Children will do what comes naturally to them, and that’s something to be happy about.
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