The responsibilities you take on when you become a parent are endless. You are responsible for the physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual future of this new life you have brought into the world. In addition to taking care of a child’s immediate physical needs, such as food and shelter, parents are also responsible for raising their children to be good citizens who contribute positively to their community.
Many parents tend to think their child is too young to start learning the skills they will need later in life to function as an adult. This is not true. The earlier you start teaching your children the essential life skills they need, the more natural their transition to adulthood will be.
The formative years before the age of 10 are when the lessons you teach your child leave an indelible imprint that will remain for life. You can use many teachable moments in your child’s growth journey to instill ethical values, morals and principles. As parents, the responsibility is to recognize such moments and leverage them.
Just as children have physical and developmental milestones to reach, such as sitting, crawling and walking, there are also social, emotional and psychological milestones, too. A delay in acquiring any of them can have a profound impact on your child’s ability to integrate into society as an adult. Here are 15 suggested milestones a child must attain by the time they turn 10.
1. Gender Equality
From an early age, children get bombarded by gender stereotypes. They are in the stories you read to them, in the shows they see on TV, in magazines, and in the role modeling examples they see at home. Such gender stereotypes include boys liking blue and girls liking pink, boys playing with cars and girls playing with dolls, and boys being brave and strong and girls being timid and weak.
It is essential that children know that gender stereotypes exist, but they don’t apply to everyone. Tell your daughter that it’s okay for her to like blue. Tell your son it’s okay to cry when he is hurting physically or emotionally. Your children need to respect their peers who don’t conform to gender stereotypes and not isolate or victimize them.
Children need to recognize the difference between boys and girls is only physical. Fairly early on, children will pick up that boys and girls don’t look the same. You should explain that to them at an age-appropriate level if they ask. Children need to understand and respect the differences between boys and girls. Explain from an early age that boys and girls can do the same things.
Tell your child that it’s never okay to discriminate against someone because they are a boy or a girl. For example, teach your son to welcome a girl who chooses to play soccer at recess instead of hopscotch. Children need to be able to function in groups of both boys and girls as this is the reality of adult life and the workplace.
There is a link between children who don’t learn or understand gender equality and their probability of becoming victims or perpetrators of gender-based violence later in life. Being able to teach children this concept as early as possible is advantageous.