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14.12.2018 17:07:48

Positive Parenting Begins with You

Many parents believe that infants need only food, warmth and regular medical care. Other common misconceptions include: talking to newborns is of no use because they don’t understand the speech yet; they can be left alone in a room when safely wrapped in beshik (Uzbek traditional cradle); a baby should be left alone when it cries so that it learns to comfort itself; adults can talk about any subject in any tone with the baby in the same room; reading books to a child is not important for a child at this age; and parents can be absorbed in their mobile phones when feeding or laying the baby down for a nap.

Fortunately, high-quality medical services are accessible in every region of Uzbekistan. Over 95 per cent of Uzbek children receive immunizations. Indicators of infant mortality have drastically decreased in recent years. While continuing further improvements in the area of children’s health and development, the Health Section of UNICEF Uzbekistan focuses on parental education. By developing training programs for nurses who visit homes, UNICEF hopes to affect parents’ and other caregivers’ attitudes towards kids between the ages of 0–3 years.

Early childhood development is the process of forming the abilities to see, hear, speak, move, think and solve problems. Almost all children develop similar capabilities, but development happens at different speeds depending on their genetic make-up and environment. The social and physical environment impacts whether children develop a sense of curiosity, interest to study and self-confidence. Stimulation of the child’s senses by parents is extremely important.

Early childhood is considered the most important stage of human development. It is a period of big possibilities and challenges. The period between conception and 3 years of age is critical for brain growth and future well-being, such as health, behaviour, and communication skills. Children’s future success in learning and their productivity as adults depend on what happens or does not happen during these years. Therefore, children need not only healthy nutrition and quality medical care, but also mental stimulation and a strong bond with their parents or other caregivers. Constant care and attention in the context of stable, warm relationships is no less important than physical care and nutrition.

Data demonstrate that in 12 of the 29 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, almost half of the children are at risk of not achieving their full potential because of stunting or poverty (UNICEF, 2011). An estimated 5.9 million children under 5 years of age — 26 per cent of children in this age group — are at risk of not reaching their full potential (UNICEF, 2013). This region of the world has the largest number of children under 3 years of age living in boarding schools. Institutionalization has a negative effect on children’s growth and development, as even the best childcare institutions cannot provide the consistent one-to-one care that is crucial for infants.

During the first years of life, children learn at much faster rates compared to other periods. Children’s brain process huge amounts of new information at high speeds. In order to make the most of this time, besides medical check-ups and healthy nutrition, children need love and connection, attention, encouragement and mental stimulation. The quality of care received during the first years of life — including social interaction and stimulation — has a permanent effect on the brain’s development. Considering that early childhood sets the course for our physical growth, learning skills and even our income as adults, this period is also critical for the development of the nation.

With this information in mind, take a look at the children in your life. Their future depends on your attention and care. It may take a village to raise a child, but the work begins with you.

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