In an Emotionally Enriching Environment, we give the gift of a childhood full of fun and lightness. A positive emotional environment for children and adults alike is one where we give our full attention, we appreciate our child for who they are, and we express our love for them emotionally, physically and spiritually.
It is acting from the understanding that our time, attention and complete acceptance of our child as they are will fulfill them, rather than the ‘stuff’ that we buy for them or how hard we work to buy them that stuff.
Supporting your child
In an Emotionally Enriching Environment, the main focus of the parent is to offer support to the child. This support is for them to learn the skills they need in order to do things for themselves, and thus develop a deep-rooted sense of self worth.
This theme of support runs throughout the home. As a parent, you too must make it a priority to seek out the support that you need to be able to parent to your fullest, especially during the early years which are such a beautiful and challenging time.
Offering emotional support means being allowing of your child’s feelings. Allowing is to ‘allow’ him to release what he needs to release with your close, loving support. For an infant, this means holding him for as long as he needs to be held. Wearing your baby or toddler in a wrap or carrier, with him being part of your body, will give him immeasurable comfort. It will also give you confidence in being able to support him.
This physical closeness may mean that through non-verbal communication you suddenly realise that you understand what is troubling him. This realisation may or may not happen each time, however, with the close contact of regular babywearing you will feel more in tune with your baby and toddler and more able to sense what his needs are.
The point is that you are giving your complete physical presence and emotional support to him by ‘wearing’ him. You are clearly sending the message, “I am here for you. I may not be able to ‘fix’ things for you but I can hold you in love whilst you release what you need to. You can trust me to not abandon you whilst you are suffering.”
This approach of support rather than fixing or trying to control strong feelings in your child is relevant throughout childhood. For example, intense crisis can be a hallmark of the toddler years. However, once you are able to shift your perception of a crisis from one of wanting to stop it and control your child to one of calmly observing the crisis, the quality of your presence changes the situation. When you sit and be present with him in the crisis, without seeking to control him, you allow his release to play out and dissipate naturally, rather than adding your reaction to the crisis which enlarges the drama.
The theme of support of your child during the early years Is part of the overall approach of respect. We can only grow children who are respectful of their own bodies, of others and of this planet when we offer respect to them first.
Fun and laughter
One of the most invigorating and liberating parts of parenting is your child’s insatiable desire for fun and play. From peekaboo, hide and seek, chase, spraying water on each other from a hose or a spray bottle, to silly walks and songs, and family jokes – the humour and play changes as they grow from a baby to a teenager to an adult and our capacity to have fun with them and laugh at ourselves should grow as they do.
Laughter really is the best medicine for everyone, and being silly with our children calls for our complete engagement in the present moment with them; giving all of ourselves to them for fun and laughter is more enriching than anything else!
The Emotionally Enriching Environment for Parents
An Emotionally Enriching Environment is one where we embrace and welcome the myriad of emotions that we will feel from one moment to the next as parents.
An Emotionally Enriching Environment is one where we jump onto this rollercoaster ride of parenting with a sense of adventure and an open heart.
Nothing in your life will ever be the same once you have held your child for the first time; the sky will be bluer, the stars brighter and the flowers more beautiful.
Don’t be fooled by those who say that you’ll just be able to carry on as before, and that your baby “will need to just to fit into your schedule.”
You have created a new life, birthed another human being. With the birth of the child comes your rebirthing; you are reborn as a parent, a mother or father.
You provide an Emotionally Enriching Environment for yourself and your child by embracing every aspect of the parenting experience: the joy, the exhaustion, the frustration, the love.
Relinquish thoughts of getting baby onto a schedule or resuming your old life, and instead think of immersing yourself fully in the parenting experience, letting your newborn guide you with her preferences: feeding on demand and being close to you day and night for the duration of the fourth trimester.
Put aside notions of ‘taming’ your toddler and instead create a calm, enriching environment that gives the space and time your young child needs to be able to unfold at her own pace.
In an Enriching Environment you can see that in order to grow balanced and open-hearted human beings, the traditional parent-child role should be turned on its head.
You see your child as a capable human being whose young age requires your close physical, emotional and spiritual support as guidance on how to be in this world.
In an Emotionally Enriching Environment you approach this journey with lightness and a sense of fun, relaxing in the knowledge that at any given moment you are doing the best you can!
It can be paralysing at times when one is so desperately trying to do the ‘right’ thing, buy the right toys and books, as well as be a conscious and aware parent.
We can try so hard to be the perfect parents or the perfect partner with the perfect child that we lose the joy of the precious moments of just childhood. Early childhood can be calm and serene and gloriously messy and chaotic in equal measure, and your life may feel like that for a few years, but hold tight, it will pass.
Five questions for reflection when seeking to create an Emotionally Enriching Environment:
- Is there a sense of fun and lightness and playfulness in your home, along with the ‘serious’ business of parenting?
- How open-hearted can you be towards the myriad of feelings you experience as a parent? Can you accept all that you are experiencing?
- Are you focussed on supporting your child, rather than controlling her, measuring her on charts, and comparing her to others?
- Are you ready to seek the support that you need in order to parent well, asking for help rather than trying to ‘do it all’?
- Giving our full attention to our child is more valuable than anything else. Are you slowing down to give your child your full attention?