There's an old saying grandmothers of the past would tell a new mom upon seeing their infant for the first time: "Parenting is only for the truly adventurous." It may only be in retrospect parents finally come to this conclusion with the first addition to the family's brand new third generation. Children are the most wonderous affair of the heart parents ever experience if they are astute enough to recognize the wonderful stages of children.
The Moment Of Birth
Coming to terms with the new life now in your arms may be already too late not to notice the newborn's first stage of life: absolute and total dependency. That tiny adorable little bundle has, by its presence alone, changed two relatively self-assured people into a puddle of doubt and uncertainty. Don't assume a cradle, a warm blanket, regular feedings and sufficient amount of sleep..well...maybe not "sufficient" so much as adequate, is all there is to parenting a newborn. Don't miss miss the entire aura of infancy: the strange and awesome joy of moving from moment to moment with a brand new personality to treasure. Now matter how sleepless a parent may be, those first months with the brand new baby are like a jewel in a tiny case that can't be opened until the most appropriate occasion. Hang onto them for dear life. When your family nest empties there's still that jewel to cherish.
From Formula to Solid Food
By the time a baby begins to accept solid foods, the personality of this amazing creature is pretty well formed. Parents can already determine the likes and dislikes of this new little person. If they can't, they don't have any worries. Their infant will make it quite obvious. Mark these days and issues well. On that first day of kindergarten, all of these likes and dislikes will be amplified.
Once first steps are taken, the little dynamo has discovered among all of the other discoveries of his/her first year a remarkable word: freedom. If you thought Mario Andretti was fast, your little energizer baby is faster. Maybe it's all that nourishment from solid food? Or possibly baby is thrilled by moving from Mommy's tummy to the freedom of movement on the outside. Double up on your vitamins if necessary. You'll need the extra vim and vigor to keep pace with your very mobile child.
Are The Twos Really So Terrible?
For generations, the idea is that a two year old child goes through a peculiar phase where discovery of distinct dislikings for things that inhibit curiousity and mobility. Or somehow creates a baby darling who loves to echo what he/she hears: "NO!" Be aware that gender has a lot to do with how that word will be accepted. Masculine children tend to be pro-active where female children may momentarily accept that word with analytical forethought. A two year old uses the word "NO" as a guideline for self-expression. When the toddler hears "NO", it is an automatic challenge to see why.
If the toddler is the one who firmly says "NO", it's a challenge loaded with another newly discovery: defiance. For parents, this is the beginning of a long journey of parental authority that needs to be creative as well as constructive. Any negative verbiage from this point on, even if only ambiguously, teaches your child independent reasoning. Parents need to recognize children rarely understand ambiguity at an early age, often not even into their teens. Never send mixed messages to a young child. You force them to choose which of the possibilities you want them to obey. Remind yourself your child isn't a mind reader and you'll learn this phase of childhood is really all about how you present your authority.
The life of a three year old is full of new ideas they often form from what they hear and see from those most often in their presence. Never fool yourself into believing that three year old isn't watching all the examples you set. If you want the wrong instant replay of your actions, they'll be quite able to reenact it nearly verbatim. By four years old, this youngster learns fears that hadn't presented themselves before. They may love their modicum of independence, just not so much that parents become invisible. They may enjoy the company of other children, but it won't mean they are expert negotiators. Age four is that strange adventurous year before most children begin school. Reduce their fears and insecurities by gifting them with responsibilities.