Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Building Relationships with Our Kids

"Emotional connections between parents and young children are so essential for the child's development and mental health that disruption of parent-child attachment is considered a risk factor for early development" (Bowlby 1969, 1980; Ainsworth, et al., 1978; Greenspan, 1985).

I couldn't agree more. I'm sure this won't be very popular, but I truly believe that pre-school is detrimental for children.

For years, educators have insisted that all children should be enrolled in pre-school and that those of us who do not enroll our children in pre-school do a serious disservice to our kids. I completely and wholeheartedly disagree.

In my experience, children enrolled in pre-school do not do better and, in fact, most have serious struggles because that emotional connection was severed at such an early age. I've been a mother long enough and seen enough to say that I firmly believe that the relationship we develop with our children from birth to age 8 is the foundation for the relationship we have with them when they are teenagers.

I also believe that if we want to have an influence on our children when they are going through the tumultuous teen years we must establish and nurture that relationship when they are babies and toddlers.

Sending young children off to pre-school compels them to establish a relationship with their teacher instead of with their parents. It isn't about quality time, it's about quantity. I think we've been lulled by the politically correct term "quality time" into thinking if we give our kids 30 minutes of focused time a day that will somehow be enough. It is not. Young children want quantity. They want to know mom is there all the time because this is the time that they form the strong bonds that will call them back when they are teenagers.

Emotional connections with our children are imperative. If those connections are disrupted problems occur. Look around and see how many teens are drinking regularly, doing drugs, and are sexually active at 12-14. It's astonishing. How many families are struggling with problems with their teens? I believe it goes back to the relationship established when they were very young.

We have one chance to be a parent. Time goes by so fast and our lives slip away before we know it. Children grow from babies to young adults in warp speed. I believe that if we want to avoid many of the problems plaguing our kids, and even our society, we, as parents, need to step up to the plate. We need to focus the bulk of our time on raising and teaching our children. We need to establish emotional connections with them when they are young. We need to realize that, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home," (David O. McKay) and nothing we do will ever be more important than what we do within the walls of our own homes.

Keeping a child at home with a loving, nurturing relationship will do far more for him than any pre-school. Learning to read can wait, but building a relationship cannot. We need to take time to build relationships with our children and when we do, we'll see the fruits of our labors when we need it most.


Anonymous said...

I agree that you can never go back and build a relationship that didn't get enough care in the early years. It's always different and the bond is different than the one that formed early on. I have seen it with my own children who bonded more securely with my mother than me because I had to work when they were little. I would love to have had a chance to stay with them for as long as I and they needed me to. Melanie Davey

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Maggie said...

I didn't do preschool with our children (mainly because it is so expensive), but I've enjoyed the time we've had together at home. We try to do our own activities and preschool-ish learning. I think Kindergarten is early enough to be heading out into the world.