You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Those words may thrill or scare you but when you think about it, it’s obvious. By the time she starts school, she learns that she can trust you and that you believe in her. She believes that learning is fun and that diversity is a good thing. These lessons are the most important ones you teach.
Learning is Fun
Your tot’s curiosity may get her in all kinds of mischief, requiring your constant vigilance. She may ask, “Why?” from the time she gets up until she falls asleep at night. Her curiosity is great, but you may not feel that way about her curiosity when she smears makeup all over the bathroom or when she pesters you with ”Why? Why? Why?” when you’re speaking to her pediatrician — or your boss (your other boss) on the phone. Help her find safe and creative ways to learn. Stop to experience a flower with her or blow bubbles so she can watch the wind at work. Read to her, even if she asks for the same book 1,256 times this month. Enjoy learning with her as you teach her.
Your toddler has many things to accomplish over the course of her life. Teach her that she can succeed, building a foundation of achievement. When she stomps her foot and declares, “I do it myself!” let her try. Start earlier so you don’t have to rush her through things or be late. Provide supportive suggestions before you decide to step in and do things for her. Her abilities may surprise you.
Your toddler trusts you to keep her safe, love her and provide for her. Treat her with respect when she does something wrong instead of making her scared to make a mistake. Teach her that she can trust you no matter what. If she can, her trust transfers to teachers, friends and others as she grows. Yes, it’s okay to teach her that everyone shouldn’t be trusted and that she shouldn’t talk to strangers, but don’t make her fear the world.
When she loudly asks why that person is fat or points at someone in a wheelchair and asks why she doesn’t get up, take the questions in stride. If the person she’s asking about notices, he will often accept the questions because she’s a small child. Let her know people are different and different is okay. Your calm response assures her that she can be different. A generation of children free from prejudice holds hope for the world.