Your children’s development starts with their physical, doing dimension. It incorporates their physical bodies, their potentials and capacities to do and behave, and most of what is visible in terms of their actions and activities.
Part of your role is to help your children grow to respect and appreciate their physical abilities and skills, to know how to behave in a variety of situations, and to recognize and utilize their physical capacities and potentials. This physical, doing dimension starts at infancy and is central to your children’ adjustment throughout their journey to adulthood.
The emotional dimension is equally important. Here are found feelings, fears and frustrations, sadness and joy, disappointment and excitement, love and hate, fun and futility. Your growing children experience all of these emotions and must learn how to interpret them, how to express them, and how to manage them.
For example, you want your children to learn to express anger without having tantrums, to deal with despair and disappointment without becoming destructively depressed, to express love and joy without getting into harmful or inappropriate relationships. Within this dimension, you hope they learn to deal with their emotions and learn how to express their feelings effectively and appropriately.
Around the age of four or five the moral, spiritual dimension begins to emerge. Effectively helping your children develop a solid sense of right and wrong, good and bad, requires your being clear about your values and beliefs in these areas. Success in this dimension is critical to success in the social dimension emergeing about the same time.
When your children are about five or six, the social dimension becomes dominate and begins to interact with the other developing dimensions. The social dimension embraces your child’s potential to interact with other children and adults and to become socially effective and self-determined.
By about eleven or twelve, your child’s emerging sexual dimension begins dynamically interacting with the other developing dimensions. Sexual behavior and attitudes that are appropriate and inappropriate, healthy and unhealthy, effective and ineffective are best conveyed to maturing adolescents by parents who have carefully thought through and appropriately deal with the issues.
This central parent responsibility similarly applies to the thinking, learning dimension starting at birth and gaining focus at seventeen or eighteen. By then, your children should be self-directed, skilled learners who are formulating independent ideas and perceptions. They should be thinking critically, clearly, and thoroughly. Your older adolescents need to be receptive to the ideas of others and at the same time able to combine those ideas with their own, i.e., they should be thinking for themselves.