'Always believe your kids will be successful in life'
Parenting can be very confusing. On-the-spot decisions have to be made and parents are in a dilemma, constantly wondering whether the decision was right or wrong. Sabina Azizova guides parents on how to assist children to reach their full potential. She is the founder and CEO of Little Champions Nursery in Jumeirah, Dubai, and a consultant in psychology.
Her vision is to create a better society for tomorrow by helping today's children grow up as well-rounded, mature individuals who will go on to become successful leaders. "Childhood education experts agree that building a child's character must begin at the preschool stage. During this period, children can easily be shaped and guided to learn between right and wrong and live a value-filled life. They can easily absorb and emulate what they see and hear from adults in their surroundings," Azizova says, in an interview with Khaleej Times.
She believes that every child is capable of reaching his/her learning potential in a caring classroom. "For example, I greet each child as he/she enters the classroom, so that each one feels welcome and believes that he/she is part of a learning community. I believe in treating children with respect in a fun, child-centred learning environment. I make sure that every child is cared for and work hard to create a classroom that celebrates achievement and progress," Azizova says.
According to Azizova, children have strong emotions and need to be able to show them. When they are angry, they have to be allowed to say so. Parents have to teach them to say so in an acceptable way, and not to conceal their feelings. "Of course, they must learn to be angry without being aggressive, abusive or threatening, but they must still be allowed to feel angry and to say so. Your kids have to know they can express justified anger without being told off for it," she says.
"Or, let's say you've had a row with your child. What happens next? Child comes to apologise and some parents tell them again how badly they've behaved. Next time, they're on the defensive, arguing back or maybe the parent just stops speaking to them for a while and goes into a sulk," says the psychologist.
Expressions of love
Children need to see the results of an apology and modify their behaviour. "So when the fight is over, let them know they are loved, and welcome them back into your affection. Show that you appreciate their apology and their ability to recognise that they were responsible for the fight," she says.
"Of course, parents may feel that they need to talk over the issue with their child - either the subject matter of the argument, or the way they handled it. But don't do it right then. Save it for later, when your friendship is firmly re-established," advises Azizova.
With older kids, parents might want to mention that there is a need for discussions later, or might just want to bring it up at a better time - in the car together, or maybe at bedtime. But not in front of anyone who wasn't involved in the incident such as family, siblings or friends.
In addition to love, Azizova says there are few other things parents have to give children too, such as self-discipline, values, the ability to form good relationships, a healthy lifestyle, a range of interests, a decent education, a broad mind, the ability to think for themselves, understanding the value of money, the skills to be assertive, the ability to learn - and the occasional haircut.
According to Azizova, parents should not display worry, as children feel it since they mirror their parents. If parents believe that everything will be fine with their child, then it will definitely be fine. Most of the time parents are more worried than children, especially if it is the first child in the family. "We believe that when parents and teachers work together and when expectations are consistent at school and at home, children are given the best opportunity to grow and thrive," she notes.
Starting school: The transition
Every child is a unique individual and will respond to separation in his/her own way. There is no right or wrong way to separate. Different children will adapt to new experiences differently, says Azizova.
Some children burst into tears when a parent tries to leave. There are usually two types of crying kids - loud and quiet. The loud, crying child lets everyone know how he/she is feeling, but this doesn't mean he/she is in greater discomfort than the child who is crying softly in the corner.
Some children cry at the moment of saying goodbye and quickly move on, while others may cry intermittently throughout the day. "It is better to try to not look worried. Remember that young children don't have the language or emotional maturity to understand their own feelings. Crying is their way of expressing sadness or fear," reminds Azizova.
Many parents are uncomfortable about leaving a crying child, but it is important to understand that this is a normal expression of a child's feelings. She says, "Remind your child about the fun activities with classmates and teachers at the school. Acknowledge that it's hard to say goodbye and remind him/her that you'll be back later. Tell your child that the teacher is there to take care of him/her and that she'll help make him feel better."
Don't prolong the goodbye. Her advice to parents, "After you leave, the teacher will be able to comfort and distract your child, and it is important that your child begins to trust the teacher. It's very likely that he/she'll stop crying soon after you leave, but you can always ask someone at school to call you later to reassure you."
It is always good to remember that each child is unique. The best schools understand this and provide a healthy and safe environment for kids, besides professionally qualified loving teachers who make children feel special and loved.
How to prepare your child for preschool
- For a child to be comfortable at the nursery, parents must be comfortable and confident about the place.
- Communicate to the child about the structure of the nursery and about the people and friends he/she would have.
- A week before school starts, begin a conversation with your child about it. School as a word has no real meaning for a three-year-old who has no previous experience.
- Talk about new friends that they can meet, fun activities and toys to play.
- Bring your child for a tour to the nursery.
- Allow children to take their favourite toy to school.
- In the early school days, parents can spend time with the child in the classroom to make the child feel safe.