The Five Pillars of Balance: Parents EditionAdeshola Ezeokoli
What is a balanced child? A balanced child is one whose parents are paying careful attention to the five pillars of balance namely, spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and relational. This does not mean that you have all the answers or have it all down pat. It is the application of the five pillars of balance in order to produce a well-rounded child who is a joy to himself/herself, her parents and the community at large.
So, when it comes to balanced children, what areas are these that are paramount?
Spiritual: Teach your children what you believe. Bring them up in the ways of God. Give God first place in your home and let your children see it. The world is confusing enough: what was wrong yesterday may be okay today and vice versa. Your children deserve grounding in the beliefs and worldview that made you the person that you are today. Teach them the number one spiritual principle of love (love God, love people). Engage them in the tenets of your faith. This does not mean take them to church every time the doors open. It is more than that. It means letting them see you live your faith; letting them see how you handle the storms of life, through faith; and answering their questions the best way you can. It may even mean admitting to them that you may not always have the answers, but God loves them anyway.
Mental: Early learning is vital. Be sure to foster in your children a love of learning. Do not leave all their academic development to the school system alone. Age appropriate books should be a part of your home life. Develop a reading culture. If they see that you are an avid reader, they are more likely to be readers themselves, as opposed to them seeing no reading done by the adults in the home. Teach them things outside of the classroom. Teach them things in a fun way. Teach them to aspire to be be greater than you are. This will help them fulfill their academic potential as well as train them to research things and learn things on their own. Engage their curiosity. No question is stupid. Encourage them to ask questions and come up with their own answers. My mother used to tell me, whenever I asked the meaning of a word:”Go and look it up in the dictionary”. Now I tell my children the same, in addition to “Google it!”
Physical: Apart from taking your children to the doctor and making sure that they get their vaccines, you need to make sure that they eat nutritious, healthy food. They need regular exercise and fresh air. Children need adequate rest also. It makes me shiver with horror when I see babies as young as six months with artificial juices in their feeding bottles! It may take some doing but since childhood obesity in on the rise in the US, it is worth the fight, to make sure that our children eat the best quality food possible. I once met a man who fed his child Ramen noodles on a daily basis. There is no justification for this. The occasional visit to Mac Donald’s can be ok as long as this is recognized as a treat and not made into a daily thing. Fast food is laden with sugar and salt, two ingredients that can contribute to heart disease which is the number one killer in the USA. They need exercise, which is where school sports and after-school sports activities come in. If parents exercise and eat healthy, children are likely to follow suit.
Emotional: Emotions are good servants but bad masters. As children grow, they need to be taught to manage their emotions, including negative ones. They need to be taught disciplined so that they can become self-disciplined. Children should be taught early to identify what emotions they feel and manage them accordingly. As a child, I used to be told: “You do not get angry with your parents!” That did not prevent me from getting angry with my parents, it only made me angrier as I felt that my feelings were not being acknowledged as important. Teaching your children to suppress negative emotions without dealing with them can lead to a backlash as children learn to pretend and repress so called unacceptable emotions. This may later lead to angry out-bursts and “acting out” and “we don’t even know why”. Lead by example by learning to accept, own, deal with and master your own emotions.
Relational: Children need to be taught that the world does not revolve around them. Simple things like respecting the property of other people and not taking, without asking what does not belong to them, should be taught. They should be shown by example how to relate to others. As a parent you do not get to be mean to others and wonder why your children are unfriendly! Model the behavior that you wish to see in them as far as relating with other people is concerned. Keep negative talk about others away from small children. You do not want to ruin their faith in people. Relate to them with love, compassion and respect. Be firm in discipline, but do not make your relating with your children, discipline alone.
If you pay attention to these key areas, you will not leave out a lot. Let us raise balanced children who will be the people that they are destined to be.