Child playing with pencil colors

Your child's early childhood development is an important part of their formative years. This is when they learn about their environment and form connections through their activities. In this stage, your child will learn how they would see the world - whether they feel protected and safe, how people react when they cry or laugh, and even whether they feel loved. Their IQ and EQ development is crucial and requires the right balance.

This is why your role as a parent is important to strike a balance between guiding them and letting them discover things on their own1.

Here's what you need to know:

Learning healthy eating habits
At first, it may be difficult to teach your child how to eat healthier. They may throw tantrums at the beginning and avoid some food but don't be discouraged! 

Here's a tip: Just keep serving. Repeated exposure helps your child's food acceptance. If ever they don't like the food, that's fine too.

In their early childhood development, your child is still learning what food they like. So don't forget to choose healthy options and offer a variety of meals to them2. 

Your encouragement is important and this would influence their food choices in the future. Better yet, as your child’s role model, show them good eating habits that they can emulate.

Fats can be healthy too
Teaching kids how to eat vegetables sounds hard. Pizza, ice cream, and other similar food are more appealing to them. But eating healthy doesn't only call for green vegetables; you don't need to avoid fats altogether. There are "healthy fats" that your child would need.

In their early childhood development, your child is more active and would need an energy boost. A proper diet is also essential to brain development.

Your real enemy is trans-fat and saturated fats but food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and other healthy fats, are your heroes. For a healthier lifestyle, it is recommended to look out for those that aid in boosting the brain2.

Here are some recommended food with healthy fats3: 

  • Whole milk
  • Walnuts
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Berries
  • Olive oil

Striking a balance in discipline and independence
Your child's formative years are when their minds and bodies are active as they continue developing skills. In their early childhood development, it's essential to take advantage of how active they are to ensure proper development. By the time they're 3 years old, children are already capable of many things. At this age, they can balance on one foot, throw and catch a ball, tell stories, and speak clearly4.

Although it may be difficult to not be protective, it's also important to let them explore their abilities and make decisions on their own. Remember, it's okay to make mistakes.

Your role in their early childhood development is to make sure they equally develop their EQ and IQ. What better way to ensure this than to teach them to be more confident and communicate how much you believe in them?

By simply including them in the family's daily activities and routines, and giving them appropriate choices, you can help your child explore their role, tasks, and abilities. This will surely build their self-confidence and skills to be more independent in the future. 

Safe environment for learning independence
To ensure a safe learning environment for your child, simply increase the accessibility of your child's environment, teach them daily tasks they can do on their own, and make time for them. Your encouragement and presence in their early childhood development would go a long way.

For starters, here's what you could do:

  • Let them dress on their own. Give them clothes that can be easily worn and encourage them to make choices. Add some child-size or child-proof mirrors, laundry baskets, and low-bar rack for clothes. 
  • Encourage them to lend a helping hand in the kitchen. Give them access to drinking jars, utensils, bowls, and even snacks. By allowing them to help in simple meal preparations, their interest in food will increase.

Just make sure everything is child-proof and be prepared for a few possible breakages at first5.

Your role as a parent in your child's early childhood development may be nerve-wracking at first. But just like them, your confidence will build in time. Just keep in mind to give them the right balance in diet, discipline and independence, and learning.

As your child is also learning, don't be afraid to do the same. You could also get more tips from experts and parents just like you!

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References:

1 Child development: the first five years (2020). Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/development/understanding-development/development-first-five-years
2 Preschoolers’ Diets Shouldn’t Be Fat-Free: Here’s Why (2016). Retrieved August 30, 2020 from https://healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/nutrition-fitness/Pages/Reducing-Dietary-Fat-for-Preschoolers.aspx
3 Protect your brain with "good" fat (2012). Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protect-your-brain-with-good-fat
4 Fitness and Your 3- to 5-Year-Old (2019). Retrieved August 30, 2020 from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/fitness-4-5.html?ref=search
5 Growing Independence (n.d). Retrieved August 31, 2020 from https://www.pregnancyparenting.org.au/parenting/growing-independence