The Home - As A Sanctuary
A vital part of child development is the healthy cultivation of the senses. At birth, as a child emerges from the dark, warm, quiet environment of the womb, care must be taken to protect the still sensitive child from over stimulation of the developing sensory mechanism. The goal is to allow the child to unfold gradually, naturally, when they are ready, avoiding unnecessary shocks to their still delicate system.

When sensory stimulation is too great, an automatic shutdown response may develop as a protection from that which is too much for the child to process and integrate. If this protective response occurs too much, it becomes the usual response to outside stimulation, and a child can gradually become closed to life, and his ability to perceive accurately is diminished. As parents we must act as a filtering system for children until they are able to do this for themselves. It is important to stress here the gradually unfolding nature of the sensory mechanism, and the need to protect young children. An appropriately stimulating environment for an infant is much different than for an eight year old.

Goodness, Truth and Beauty
Attention must be paid not only to the intensity, but also to the quality of the child's environment. As anyone who has looked into the eyes of a newborn baby knows, already within each child at birth is the seed of what he may someday become. By surrounding a child with that which is good, true and beautiful, we encourager this seed to sprout and blossom according to plan.

Goodness, truth and beauty are to a child, what light, water and nutrients are to a plant vital to their health and well being. Likewise, when children are deprived of these things, they are sure to wither, become misshapen, bear no fruit and eventually die. As we strive to live these qualities of goodness, truth and beauty, and bring them into our child's world, they have a tremendous positive impact.

Much of our ability to accurately perceive, and intelligently respond to sensory input has been lost in this time of distorted images and over stimulation. In a world that is filled with fast paced, colorful, electronic impressions, time is rarely taken to examine, and accept or reject that which is entering and influencing our lives and the lives of our children. We can begin to change this process by asking these kinds of questions: "Is your child surrounded by that which is beautiful and pleasing to the senses? Are they greeted by that which is harsh and overbearing, or by that which is soothing and harmonious? Is your home, or your child's classroom, warm, comfortable and orderly? What effects do these early impressions have on the child's developing perspective on life?"

During the first seven years, the emphasis is on creating beauty in the home, because this is the place where young children spend most of their time. In most homes, the environment is created by, and geared to the needs and desires of the parents in the household. Often, adjustments need to be made in order to provide surroundings that truly nurture the young child. Areas that are particularly important to examine are light, sound and color. These are most pleasing when they are soft, beautiful and harmonious, and thus, help a child to develop an inner sense of beauty and harmony.

Linda Garrett facilitates "Parenting from the Heart" classes and does individual and family counseling. For more information, you can cad her at (714) 644-0330.

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