Have you ever wondered just how far do childhood memories reach? Some studies suggest that first childhood memories can form before the age of three. However, as they get older, their earliest memories are replaced with the ones that come after, and when they grow up, they usually remember back to about age six. It is still unclear why some people, feelings and experiences are treasured for a lifetime, while so many others aren’t, but surely the emotional aspect has a lot to do with it. Those memories are far more than just autobiographical images that stay in their head – they’re the building blocks that shape their personalities. Here are some things that are worth considering while they are still making those precious memories.
Experiences, rather than Stuff
You can give your kids the fanciest newest toys every day, but the truth is that as soon as they get a new one, they will forget all about the old one, and how much it meant for them to have it. However, they will remember the experiences they shared with their family members, e.g. going to a pool with a sibling, visiting the comic book shop with their dad, preparing cookies with mum, etc.
Kids have that special gift to cherish the little moments, while grownups are trying to catch up with all their duties and to-dos. Try to stop, smell the roses and see the bigger picture. The fact that the dishes are not washed and the bed isn’t made may annoy you right now, but don’t rush to do it while your kid is reciting a poem to you. Put down your phone, turn off the camera, and give your kids your undivided attention – they will cherish it forever.
Encouragement and discipline
Raising kids is like shaping wet cement. They will react on positive words and encouragements, but without correction and discipline they could become spoiled instead of self-confident. Correcting kids doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. On the contrary, they may be mad about it currently, but when they grow up, they’ll treasure your criticism just as they treasure your encouragements, all of which made them who they are.
First independent social interactions
Most of the memorable moments come from the time kids spend with their families, but the first experiences of separation and meeting new unknown people also have a large impact on kids’ personalities. A great early learning centre with a good teacher and communicative classmates can have a lasting effect on kids’ character and learning skills. It’s no wonder that most of the adults remember the name of their kindergarten teacher and at least one classmate.
How parents handle crisis
Parenting includes being there for your kids when the times are rough, but also being there for each other so that the kids can see and appreciate that. Some unfortunate events kids tend to remember are illnesses or loss within the family, and how you’ve guided them through the difficulties. Also, they will remember how you’ve dealt with stress and pressure, especially if you weren’t good at it.
How parents treat other people
Do you remember that kind lady from your local store your mother always smiled to and asked her how she’s doing? The reason why you memorize things like that is because kids form their behavior based on the patterns they receive from their parents. If you treat other people or your spouse badly, they’ll interpret it as normal behavior.
Family traditions established in early years and honored throughout their childhood give the kids a sense of predictability and are remembered with great fondness. Also, some traditions you had as a family (e.g. movie night, weekend getaway, karaoke Friday, family cosplay, etc.) can be passed on to your children’s families one day.
Some memories make you smile with nostalgia, while others make you sad and sometimes even angry. Although you can’t control everything your children will take from their childhood, you should make sure that they have more of the former group.
Tracey Clayton is a full time mum of three girls. She feels she knows a thing or two about raising happy, healthy and confident kids, and offers helpful advice in hers parenting articles. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.” Find her on Facebook.