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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Child Development Moving Beyond the Myths

Parenting is probably the hardest yet most rewarding job a person can have. Theories about raising children change over the years as more and more information is provided and more studies are presented about what supposedly works and what doesn’t. Despite all the information that is available, or maybe because of too much information, there is widespread confusion about many aspects of child development that can significantly affect how parents, grandparents, and caregivers raise and interact with the children in their life. The one thing that doesn’t change is how children learn and develop.

Myth #1 Parents determine their child’s personality
There's no question that every child's environment (home atmosphere, birth order, etc.) plays a role in the person he ends up being. Parental love and care is critical for a child's security and development, but babies aren’t a blank slate. They are born with different temperaments that parents are able to influence, but certainly not control. Studies have shown that genes — nature if you will — accounts for anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of the variation in people's temperaments. One only needs to observe the vast differences in twins who are treated the same and raised in the same environment yet have completely different outlooks, personalities, and preferences. However, parents can help shape a child’s behavior and show them ways to make the most of what they’ve got. A child who likes living in chaos can be taught to keep their room tidy. A musically gifted child still needs to be introduced to music. A child who always wants to be the best can learn to compromise, and a child that is happy doing as little as possible to get by can learn the value of working harder. You can’t control your child’s personality, nor should you try.

Myth #2 Parents should spend as much time as possible with their kids.
There is no question that loving parents are good for kids, but that doesn't mean your 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week attention is necessarily better. Children need to know their parents are available, that there's someone they can rely on to take care of them, but they don't need constant parental oversight. There are actually all kinds of reasons why it’s often better to leave kids to their own devices and let them play without you. First is the fact that we want our children to grow up to be autonomous, independent, self-directed, self-sufficient people! A child who hasn't had plenty of chances to be independent, self-directed, and self-sufficient isn't going to suddenly acquire such character traits as an adult. The teenager who never learned to play by himself as a child is going to have a hard time keeping himself entertained. Numerous studies have shown that while parents who work outside the home do not spend as much time with their children as those who stay at home, their children are not being shortchanged at all. Indeed, some stay-at-home parents find that their children’s social, emotional, and language skills suddenly take off as soon as they start pre-school. Most parents find that their child behaves differently and learns new skills as he interacts with other people and transitions from home settings to public ones. He may discover some fears when you're not by his side, or maybe new strengths. It is unfortunate that this misconception causes a lot of unnecessary guilt for all parents who may worry that they are not spending enough time with their children.

Myth #3 There is little academic value in free play
Although most parents realize that play is important for their child, many don't realize that play is actually crucial to future intellectual development. Unfortunately, we often believe that a three-year-old gets more value from flash cards than from playing in the sand box. Quite the opposite is true. The most important thing for young children is to learn how to learn. Through their natural inclination to explore, investigate, and experiment through play, they will acquire fundamental concepts and capacities that allow them to absorb from and adapt to the ever-changing world around them for the rest of their lives. For example, a child playing with a set of nesting cups is learning fundamental concepts of proportion, size, volume, and patterns that help to lay a strong foundation for learning complex math concepts later on. We must not confuse early learning with early training. While a two-year-old who can rattle off the names of all the shapes and colors might seem more “advanced,” in reality, they have just been trained to know the answers to some questions. While this in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, we don’t want to train a child for the world of today and neglect to train him for the world of tomorrow.

For more information on child care options, you may contact Katie Stelle-Mardis at Katie’s Kids Learning Center by phone at 309-663-5800, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or online katieskids.net. They have two locations, 1602 Glenbridge Rd. in Bloomington and 2003 Jacobssen Dr. in Normal.



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