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Ask HN: What do you wish you had taught/done for your children at an early age?
31 points by sooperb 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments
Hi, new dad here - 3 days old. I've been thinking about the best ways to developer my new-born. What are some best practices you wish you had started with your child when they were young? Brain development skills, character development, daily routines, etc.

Congrats on being a new dad!

I have 2 kids of my own and grew up in a family with 8 kids. The #1 thing I really appreciated when I reached adulthood was how relentless my parents were with all 8 of us when it came to working hard for what we wanted and treating people around us with respect. They didn't just preach it, they lived it so we learned by watching them. I may be a little biased but all of us turned into really good people and we all make pretty decent livings.

I carried that on with my 2 kids and so far am pretty happy on the people they are becoming ;)

The other thing I do with my kids is get really involved with whatever they are interested in at any given time. I look for learning opportunities in those interests and leverage those wherever I can to teach them new skills in a way where they don't realize they are being taught.

Mostly, enjoy the ride! It is an amazing ride that goes by so fast!

I don't have kids, but there are three things I really wish my parents had done:

1) Require that I take piano / guitar lessons for at least a few years. I know I'd hate it as a kid, but as an adult, the ability to read music and create music is magical to me. I wish I'd learned. (I've been "playing" guitar for 20 years, but I'm _terrible_ at it and not likely to get much better.)

2) Make exercise a family activity. I've been running for about 7 years now, and I'm healthier, stronger, happier, and more confident than I've ever been in my life before. I see my parents aging and getting older and fatter and having more and more health problems, and I wish that had been something we'd started off with a whole lot earlier.

3) Teach me a second (or third!) language. I took four years of Spanish in high school, and I can sorta-kinda-not-really read and speak Spanish, but I wish I were fully fluent in Spanish as an adult.

I'm fortunate in that I had a great childhood and great parents, and I wouldn't change much of anything else. But those three are things that stick with you for life, and as a bonus, they're things you learn better, faster, and more easily as a child.

If I have kids, I'm going to be doing all three of those.

I'd like to know why did you choose Spanish over other languages. Can you tell me?

Well, at my high school the only choices were Spanish and French. I grew up in the South. There aren't a lot of Francophiles there. I figured Spanish was a more useful language (and it turns out, I like it a lot).

I did wind up taking a semester of French in college, but I hated it.

1. Physical self-defense.

Don't leave an open avenue for bullying to set in.

Also, don't let your kid become a bully. Be sure the knowledge and skill come with that counter-point.

Bonus: Physical fitness. Mind and body are one. Oh, and regarding the mind, make sure the training doesn't involve head blows nor untrained, unguarded falls.

I have a 3.5 year old and it's too early to say.

However, languages are definitely a big thing in our household. I have three passports, my daughter has two of them, my wife has another, our daughter was born in a fifth country, and we travel relatively often and extensively.

Tip 1: Encourage kids to thank and greet people to begin to interact in another language, even if you can't speak enough to be truly conversational.

Tip 2: Show the same episodes of the same major cartoons in three or four languages so your kid gets the sense of multiple languages without the need for constant environmental stimulation.

I've been watching younger friends teaching their infants some sign language, which seems to make for happier babies. The kids can start learning at 4-5 months and had the coordination to use the signs maybe two months later. 'more', 'eat', 'mom', 'dad','play', 'sleep' & 'dog'. And the kids are thrilled when I finally learn a new word from them.

We totally thought we’d try signing. But it turned out that our child was able to make their message known with their own signals. So we just picked up theirs and didn’t bother with “official” sign language.

Around 6 months our kid picked up signs from other kids at school and tried them on us. That was super cool. I asked the teachers and they told us they only used 3 signs. So our kid definitely picked it up from friends.

A little effort, pays massive amount of dividends.

When kids are young (2-8) they have a magical ability to learn languages, it's a shame not to take advantage of that limited window to give them the lifelong gift of being multilingual.

There's a startup https://lingumi.com that makes games so kids aged 2-5 can learn new languages, even and especially if the parents don't speak them.

This sounds cool. But it seems they currently offer only English.

Have any of you used any app/tool to teach your 2-year-old a non-English language you don't know yourself?

As a child, looking back on it, fishing and doing outdoor activities with my dad was amazing.

That and look into doing sports for your kid. Strength and health + everyone’s recommendation for learning/reading will place your kid miles beyond the average person when he’s older.

I recently read some report of children having TOO WEAK a hand to hold a pencil correctly. I can’t begin to imagine the terrible conditions that will present themselves 20 years later when these kids grow up.

Congrats, you are very lucky.

Here are a few that will help you and your new baby:

1) Family is the most important community you will ever have. Learn to make it work. Offen, it will seem like it's futile but you need to do your best to keep it functioning.

2)Learn a skill/hobby you can use to scape the harshest part of life. Playing an instrument is a great scape. Don't make it part of your work.

3)Learn to make and keep lifelong friends. Have friends and be a good friend. Life is much easier when you can count on a friend and they can count on you. Friendship is about giving of yourself.

4)A scientific view of the world is only a partial view. Religion can be an additional view. Religion is more than believing in myths. It's a way to transfer knowledge thru time. Learn to identify the best parts of both and reject the bad and make it part of your life.

5) Success starts early, identify and implement habits that will help you from the start. Such as keeping a clean home and body, daily exercise, setting aside time to study and learn, planning your future and on and on

6)Everything in moderation, the problems in life often arise because of excesses, too much food, too much sex, too much alcohol, too much gaming, too much of anything.

7)Set aside time for the 2 of you to bond. Pick a fun activity you can do together regularly. As an adult, he/she will find peace while doing the same activities. Yet, they won't exactly know why but the reality is that it's a way to re-live the past good times.

8) Every action has consequences so understand that some have fatal and/or lifelong consequences, make sure he/she understands that.

9)Help by finding role models that will help thru life. The teen years are especially hard, reading books that help by showing what it's like to be a growing teen and how to cope.

10) Set aside an evening a week for the family. It can be a fun, learning, teaching or listening evening. It's a great time to bond with your family and learn from the family.

11) Life is what you make of it not necessarily a bunch of random events.

12)Work is important. Don't wait until they are adults to make them understand that we all need to work to have a good life. The worst is to have a 22 yrs old that does not have a work ethic. They will struggle all their life. Always looking to mom and dad for help.

There are plenty more but in the same way that you learned a skill, take the time to learn to be a great father.

I recommend this book. https://www.amazon.com/Achtung-Baby-American-Self-Reliant-Ch...

Mostly I’m trying to model good behavior. My kid mimics me a lot better than he can follow my directions. He’s going to be his own person, and nothing I can do will change that, I’m just a caretaker to help him grow into himself.

Did do, and it paid off: touch typing skills using a fun letter invaders (like space invaders) educational game. Not at 3 days old though ;-)

I have some words of caution ... Whatever it is you do or don't do, you'll first need to get buy-in from your spouse.

E.g. "daily routines" are harder to implement if they're important to you but not your spouse. It's difficult enough to deal with kids, when you're also dealing with an indifferent or opposed spouse, well ... good luck with that!

I am grateful that my father was using Linux exclusively pretty much from the mid 90s on and we never had another OS at home.

Taught me better hygiene and bought me better clothes. Was way too late in my life when I corrected that stuff.

How to invert a binary tree

Definitely useful

Welcome to parenthood and congratulations on your new little one!!

I have two stepchildren (8 and 6) and a 2 year old. I'm far from an expert and, if you want straight up truth, I can't think of any other relationships that have made me doubt myself so much.

But, if I could give you a bit of advice, first, I'd tell you to genuinely get to know your child, figure out what he or she loves and get as involved in it as you can. My stepchildren were a little bit older when I met them, so I didn't get the chance to see them transition from babies into little people, but seriously bud, I'm starting to cry just thinking about watching my little girl start to develop into herself.

The more that I've opened myself up to letting my kids guide their own development, the more they've driven my own development. In fact, looking back on the last four years, I'd argue that they were more involved in my development that I was possibly involved in theirs.

I'm a stutterer who hides it well, so I'm maybe a little more sensitive about speech issues than the average bear, but I got into a habit that some early childhood education types seem to love. Lauren (my two year old) is very vocal, but there are some sounds that she has trouble with, and so I try to make those sounds part of our play.

The hard 'C' and 'G' sounds are two that Lauren has some trouble with, so one of our favourite games is 'Claw'. My hands are 'Big Claws' and her hands are 'Little Claws'. The Big Claws love Little Claws, but, being hands, they don't have brains, so they don't understand things like their own reflections and they can only say 'grrrrr'.

The neat thing is that now, she likes playing 'Claw' too, so she will call them. In the early days, she clearly said 'Plaw', but with several months, it's getting closer to a hard 'C' and the growls, which used to sound like 'derrrr' are getting closer to 'grrrrrr'.

Music and dance are also pretty huge for us, but my girlfriend and I are both absolutely obsessed with music. I am a hardcore vinyl collector and, seriously bud, whatever you do, if you collect vinyl, DON'T SHOW YOUR TODDLER HOW TO SCRATCH. You might think it's a good way to teach him/her how to handle vinyls, but I have two dead records (including a formerly mint copy of Highway 61 Revisited) and two dead cartridges to serve as constant reminders of the errors of my ways.

Some of my favourite moments with my kids have been our almost daily dance parties. I'll throw on anything imaginable and figure out what they like to listen to as we go. You might be surprised by some of the music that your kids love. My eight year old stepdaughter likes pop music and trance (?), my six year old stepson likes guitar even more than I do - he's currently pretty obsessed with Soundgarden and Nirvana, so my next mission is to introduce him to Kyuss. My two year old likes traditional toddler stuff like Dora, Daniel Tiger, and Thomas the Train Engine, but she's also into some completely baffling stuff like Sepultura (Max Cavalera is the only singer she likes more than Daniel Tiger), Nailbomb (again with the Max Cavalera), the Cavalera Connection (are you seeing a trend?), the Melvins and the Wu Tang Clan. She's also really into traditional pow wow music (Young Bear is her favourite), traditional rockabilly (she used to nap to Johnny Cash and now she's developed a strong love for Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis) and psychobilly (there was a time when I genuinely thought that her first words would be Reverend Horton Heat lyrics).

I think that music and rhythm are really good for young brains and our dance parties are pretty amazing forms of exercise, but I think this all goes back to my first bit of advice. Introduce your kids to the widest range of things imaginable, figure out what they love, and I think that you'll be well on your way.

Edit - I forgot to mention two things. Lots of parents really love television/Youtube. We don't let our kids watch tons of television and we try to limit screen time in general, but sometimes, the screens will keep you sane. When your little one gets a little older, you might find yourself watching tons of children's television to see what is a nice blend of wholesome and educational. Of all the shows that I've watched, "Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood" is my absolute favourite. The Mr. Rogers Foundation/Company/Whatever it is is heavily involved in Daniel Tiger. They're wonderful little shows. If Lauren had her way, she'd replace Music Man Stan with Max Cavalera, but hey, dare to dream.

The second bit of 'advice' I could give you is that it's okay to be frustrated by your little one. Kids are a big learning curve and it doesn't matter how much you love them, sometimes they'll be very frustrating. It's okay to feel like that and it's okay to vent. It's also okay (I'd say necessary) to be an adult with adult hobbies. Even when Lauren was very young, I still made a point of going out, watching the Yankees play and having a pint.

Not sent them to the govt brainwashing centers.

Public school?

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