Theresa Alexander Inman is a highly qualified parent coach with experience in the fields of infant and toddler development, play-based interventions, behavior analysis, and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy). In her signature method, she uses them as a combined treatment modality to meet the unique needs of the families she serves. She believes learning should be fun and involve the whole family and/or village. Theresa is also an Author (How Can I Help My Child Communicate?) International Speaker and Trainer.
Theresa Alexander Inman, Parent Coach
What is child development and why is it important for parents and caregivers to understand it?
Child development is this incredible journey where children grow, learn, and acquire all sorts of amazing skills. Skills from thinking to socializing, feeling and even getting physically fit. Imagine this, I like imagining! Child development is like getting a backstage pass to your kid’s world.
You peek into their needs, strengths, and milestones. It’s not just about being a super parent, it’s about creating a space where they grow to problem-solve, explore and make informed choices while you nurture them like a boss! How do you do that? Focus on and develop your child’s strengths to help overcome any challenges.
How do nature and nurture contribute to a child’s development?
Ready for some serious awesomeness? I am old school and will use a music analogy. Think of child development like this mixtape where nature and nurture create the beats. Nature, the genes that are passed on from you shape how your child looks and thinks. Then there is nurture, the environment, the experiences, the love that molds them. They are born with the ingredients and life’s the recipe. And you are the master chef who balances it all to help them become the coolest humans ever. I want to add something my chiropractor Dr. Symons told me after he read my family history. “We are not slaves to our genes.” Our choices (nurture) can change the course of nature. So take a child diagnosed with autism. By the way 1 in 36 children will be diagnosed with per the CDC. Studies show that of those 50% will be non-vocal. However, with early intervention, 80 to 90% of those children will talk and be on par with children who do not receive a diagnosis. The reason I am in love with early intervention!
What are key developmental milestones parents should be aware of in early childhood?
You know those magical moments when your little one rolls over, crawls, babbles, or says their first “mama” or “dada”? Those are like superstar moments of childhood. According to Autism Navigator children who have 16 gestures by 16 months are on track to meet communication milestones. Among them are raising hands to be picked up, shrugging shoulders, and pointing. Children who do not exhibit gestures have predictably shown language delays 2 years later.
Fascinating right? I want to add that gestures may vary by culture and family. It doesn’t stop there. Children are also acing cognitive milestones, like object permanence, one of the first things I look for and basic problem-solving. Given the chance, you would be amazed at how creative children can be in problem-solving! Many times, we prevent these opportunities without realizing it because we want to “help” our children. Sometimes we help them “into” a disability instead of fostering learning.
How does social and emotional development impact a child’s overall well-being?
Picture social and emotional development as your child’s secret superpower which is crucial for well-being! Building relationships, managing emotions, and showing empathy is where the magic happens. It’s like giving them the keys to a world where their self-esteem soars, they
rock relationships, and tackle challenges. This gives them a solid foundation to help them shine academically and handle life’s curveballs like champions. The world is ever-changing and your child needs to develop the resilience to roll with it.
How can parents support their child’s language development?
Parents, language is like your child’s passport to the world and you are their coach! From heart-to-heart talks, yes even with your infant, to storybook sessions. Conversations build the magic. Sing, read, share tales, and let their tiny voices blossom. The more words children are
exposed to the more they will have in their repertoire. Some other ways to do this is to narrate what you and your child are doing and respond when they babble. You can also encourage storytelling, ask open-ended questions and be a patient listener. Your child is sure to amaze you!
What are effective strategies for disciplining children while promoting positive behavior?
First of all, disciplining means teaching! And the best way to do that is by modeling. They will do what you do, more often than what you say. Effective discipline does not mean playing the tough cop. It’s more like this dynamic dance of setting clear boundaries, offering choices, and giving pats on the back when your child manages life’s challenges in a way that serves them and does not cause harm to others. Instead of administering traditional punishment, you mentor and teach your child to tackle challenges with grace and wisdom. As a consequence, if your child spills something, they clean up the area. The consequence should suit the act. Note that consequences are just what happens after a behavior. They can be negative or positive. The consequence of eating too much sugar is cavities or weight gain. The consequence of brushing teeth is fewer or no cavities.
How can parents identify and support their child’s individual strengths and interests?
Ever notice how your child’s eyes light up when they are into something? Those are the sparks of their passion. Watching and encouraging those sparks are like handing them a treasure map. Guide them to explore, dig deeper, and grow in their unique ways. Your role is their cheerleader. Allow them to make mistakes and solve their own problem. For a toddler, that might look like them figuring out how to manipulate a toy to do something or their body to reach something. I want to add, when your child doubts themselves, remind them of their successes as it gives a reference point for continued awesomeness.
How does technology impact child development and what guidelines can parents follow?
Technology is like a double-edged sword. It has the power to educate and entertain and it can also be overwhelming for you and them. Here’s the deal, set screen time limits, curate quality content and enjoy tech moments together. It’s all about being the tech-savvy navigator of their digital world. And if you want some help in that area, consider using the parental control app carrots&cake as your trusted sidekick for age-appropriate learning and fun.
Closing thoughts: Hey you superhero parent! Remember you are your child’s role model. So when you care for yourself, whether it taking a stroll, reading, or grooving to music, you are showing them the power of self-love. And trust me they are watching and learning. So keep rocking parenthood and always “Parent with Confidence”
Get your free e-book with a plethora of tips to help teach your child to communicate by clicking this link.