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8 Ways to raise a "whole" child

Caron Goode, EdD, is currently the co-managing director with her husband, Tom Goode, N.D., of the International Breath Institute, an educational and training organization that offers health and lifestyle management seminars and certifica...

body, mind & soul

In the past, it seems that society has left children's souls to the church, their intellects to the schools and their physical health to the doctors. Today, parents are now more aware of the social, emotional, and spiritual qualities that children need for them to feel successful in life. We are returning to awareness of the whole child, and our decisive and dynamic parenting role in rearing a wholesome child.

Mother and daughter

Teach by example

Innovations in medicine, psychology and education have demonstrated that the mind/body is one energy unit. Clearly, a thought is a biochemical event associated with feelings.

Feelings and emotions accompany inner dialogue, whether or not we are aware of it. Every time parents demonstrate compassion for another's suffering or respect and joy for another's triumph, they model the spiritual qualities that help children mature emotionally.

Parenting the whole child means supporting the child's physical health, spiritual well being, and emotional and mental fitness. It reminds parents of two things: (1) they cannot separate their children into fragments, and (2) they look for simple ways to be mindful of their children's needs.

Support and education

Here are eight ways to support the whole child as you educate a child's mind body and spirit in the ways of the world.

1Set expectations

From the time children are young, parents teach them how to interact and socialize in the world, setting up boundaries for behavior and setting expectations for achievements. As parents, you are among the caretakers of your children's future. You are responsible for nurturing them for success in this physical world -- in whatever way it is measured in the family values you hold.

2You get what you give

What you feed children physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually is what they will give back. For example, children who eat large amounts of sugar will be more active. If children are asked questions that challenge their minds, they will be mentally curious. If children are taught to meditate or pray with you, they will find value in contemplation.

3Build confidence

You nurture children's emotions through building confidence. That's why it's important to try new experiences. Complete projects together. Play uplifting music in the background of an activity. Research an child's interest and take action together: save the whales, plant a tree, deliver food to someone who needs it, plant a flower garden.

4Lots of touches and affection

Your child's nervous system continues to need bonding through touch even through the teen years. Toddler kisses become childhood hugs, which later become a pat on the shoulder and a brief teen embrace. Touch and bonding matter significantly for children of all ages.

Up next: 4 More ways to raise a wholesome child >>

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