The Necessity of Nurture in Child Development

Becoming a parent is as simple as a backseat quickie, but the ramifications of poor parenting cost individuals, families and society as a whole countless millions of dollars and lives wasted to lost potential, mental illness and unhappy lives. Without a nurturing family to provide emotional support and encouragement during childhood, many neglected adults spend the rest of their lives trying to catch up or keep up with everyone else. Nurturing, combined with firm, reasonable discipline is critical to reaching one’s full potential.

What does it mean to nurture?

Nurturing refers to the act of caring for and encouraging something or someone precious. Gardeners diligently nurture their flower beds with water, nutrients, and judicious trimming. Teachers nurture students with challenging assignments, clear and relevant assessments and an environment conducive to learning. In the same way, parents must, from the very beginning, provide loving care, encouragement to achieve and firm discipline for their child to grow up into a successful adult. Without a nurturing and encouraging home life, children often lack the social skills and self confidence needed to succeed. Constantly doubting or belittling themselves, they become their own worst enemy.

The village starts at home

An ancient African proverb tells us that it takes a village to raise a child, but the process must begin at home to have lasting results. Everyone has met the beautiful woman who constantly criticizes her own appearance, the man who doubts his ability to attract a loving wife and the coworker who lacks the confidence to put their good ideas forward. The tragedy of these lives began at home where, rather than being nurtured and encouraged, they were criticized, insulted or neglected. In nurturing families, children learn to incorporate positive messages about who they are. These affirmations provide the foundation that everyone needs to weather difficult situations and interact with others constructively.

Physical effects of nurture

Research has shown that parents who provide nurturing care and gentle discipline increase the development of their child’s hypothalamus. This is the part of the brain that helps us deal with stress, engage in positive social interactions and boosts cognitive development and memory. Physical affection, engaging conversations and teaching the skills needed to succeed greatly improves the likelihood that your child will take an active role in their own achievements and happiness.

How children learn

Children learn by mimicking behaviors exhibited around them. Parents, other family members, friends, classmates and the media have a profound impact on the values, morals and self image held by a child. Neglect and criticism teach the child that they are not worthy of love or respect. Subconsciously, these emotionally starved children will continue to surround themselves with the negatives they feel they deserve. Encouraging a child to excel at sports, music, art, or any other activity for which they demonstrate a natural talent helps the child push through the difficult times, gaining greater achievements and valuable life skills.

Ways parents can nurture their children

    • Set age-appropriate standards

    • Be physically affectionate

    • Discipline calmly and firmly

    • Enroll your child in after-school activities

    • Cheer them on and attend their events

    • Introduce your child to a variety of activities

    • Talk with your child about their interests and concerns

    • Focus on their strengths and natural talents

Encouraging your child to learn useful social skills and explore and develop their natural talents will help them in every aspect of life. Rather than crippling your child with neglect and criticism, you can help them fulfill their potential as creative, productive and resourceful individuals with age-appropriate discipline, encouragement to succeed, and engaging conversations. They’re worth it and so are you.