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Family Matters

Raising Children: BlackboardMom’s Advice on Building Your Evolved Nest

The Evolved Nest

I remember reading a very interesting article some time ago in Psychology Today. It really gave me a new perspective on raising children. The article described the significance of something known as the evolved nest. From what I understood, the evolved nest is a set of events that must occur during the early stages of an offspring’s life in order for it to mature adequately.

According to the article, all species have evolved nests. And humans are no exception. In fact, a newborn’s brain is still very underdeveloped right after birth. Most of a person’s brain development occurs in the weeks, months, years after it exits its mother’s womb.

As a result, infancy and childhood are precious moments. In order to become a well-developed individual, humans have evolved to expect a specific set of events throughout childhood. Many studies have shown that animals who do not receive their evolved nest become abnormal.

Why Build an Evolved Nest

ground group growth hands

This inspired me in more ways than one. But the first thought that came to me was how Western society almost completely ignores these facts. Families today are not provided with much, if any, support with establishing a child’s evolved nest. Nor does our society provide the support necessary for a mother to sufficiently support and raise her child outside her womb.

Think about this, women aren’t paid during maternity leave. We are encouraged to go back to work before the baby’s third doctor’s appointment. Moreover, our bodies aren’t even fully healed. So, before we can fully provide the bonding that is required to establish a functioning relationship with our children, we are back in the workforce.

Yet, these initial interactions will ultimately mold the type of people our children will be. And one day, we will expect these children to rule our society. So, by ignoring these proofs, we as a society are supporting the continuation of an ugly drawn-out cycle.

But I realize that many of us are just doing what we’ve been shown. It’s all we know. Well, I’m here to say that there is another way! What should your evolved nest look like? Where do we start if we want to raise healthy happy people who build, live, and thrive in a good society?

As a mom and an elementary school educator, establishing and nurturing healthy relationships with youngsters is both my passion and my business. In no particular order, I am going to present my six branches for building a strongly evolved nest. This is honest advice to consider using when raising children.

Lead your children with love & support

playful asian mother and daughter crossing road

As cliché as it may sound, love is very important in a child’s life. For children, the first two people who exemplify what love looks like are their parents. If you’re a single parent like me or the other parent isn’t as present as you would have hoped, it is extremely important for you to illustrate the pillars of what love is when it is healthy.

“Make it a point to talk to your children, play games with them, exercise together, cook while they help or just keep you company in the kitchen.”

Therefore, when raising children, be present everyday. And when I say this I don’t necessarily mean in a physical sense. I mean be mindful and unwavering. If you work two jobs or long hours, you can show your presence in creative ways.

Basically, this means making every moment you are home intentional. Make it a point to talk to your children, play games with them, exercise together, cook while they help or just keep you company in the kitchen.

For instance, my seven-year-old, Xion, loves to sit on the bar stool at the kitchen counter and watch me cook while he tells me about his day or asks me questions. Even leaving cute notes around the house when you aren’t there shows love, consistency, consideration and presence.

“Support who your children are and who they are trying to become.”

Another significant factor is support. Because of this, I thought it best to include it here with love. Be supportive. Support who your children are and whom they are trying to become.

Since humans are naturally dreamers, we tend to set goals and envision ourselves completing those goals. So, promote these behaviors in your child. Be there to provide them with the tools necessary to see said goals into fruition. All in all, teaching your child how to love is one way to show them how you expect them to love others and themselves.

Give your children responsibilities

small girl cleaning shelf in apartment

Another useful tip is responsibility. As a boy mom, I know that responsibility is a huge deal. Boys tend to be competitive when it comes to almost anything, especially their mother’s affection.

Therefore, providing children with their own responsibilities not only prepares them for owning their actions, it also shows them how to enforce rules. It teaches them to set expectations for themselves and encourage each other in healthy ways.

“So, go ahead and give your children responsibilities. Make a game out of it. Give simple incentives. Make it fun.”

So, go ahead and give your children responsibilities. Make a game out of it. Give simple incentives. Make it fun. And hey let’s be real, you can also get your house cleaned without breaking so much as a sweat.

And yes, it certainly takes some reminding here and there. But children also need someone to help them set precedence until they are able to do so independently. Now, this brings me to our next MUST DO.

Hold your children accountable

thoughtful little schoolboy sitting on chair and looking at camera

This tip goes hand in hand with responsibility. Accountability is such a significant element in raising children. I can’t stress this enough.

For example, it is not okay for you to tell Jacob to vacuum on Tuesdays if you’re not going to justify whether or not he actually does the vacuuming. Hold them to what they say they are going to do and it will pay off in the long run.

“Set a reasonable standard and you’d be surprised how you child works to meet and/or surpass it.”

Jacob must expect that mom will check for the dust bunnies in the rug. Otherwise, when he tests you, and believe me he will try it, he will not expect a consequence will follow for not keeping his word. Set a reasonable standard and you’d be surprised how your child works to meet and/or surpass it.

Accountability is not just applicable to daily chores either. It carries over to schoolwork and meeting deadlines. It is essential in cultivating healthy relationships, and ultimately any goal that your child will ever set in their lives.

Children need to be taught to take ownership of their actions early on, both what they say and what they do. Trust me. I know adults who still can’t do this one correctly and frankly, it isn’t cute. No one wants to work for or with a big overgrown brat who finds anyone else to blame for their wrongs. It is important that they learn to lead by example from you.

Hold yourself accountable

tired adult woman with papers in light modern office

Despite what you might think, children realize that adults aren’t perfect. Our kiddos know that we make mistakes and it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they are very resilient and forgiving creatures.

Therefore, when raising children, you must also hold yourself accountable. Like, if Laura wants to go to Jumperoo next week and you know that the answer is no, don’t be afraid to say no or your child will hold you to it.

“If you intend to do something, and you tell your children you will, then try your best to do it.”

Children are very literal that way. If you intend to do something, and you tell your children you will, then try your best to do it. Essentially, let your words and your actions coincide the best you can.

Xion is so big on ‘but you said.’ That’s right. No matter how small that thing was that you said. He will hold you to it. Because I want to maintain the trust in our relationship, I take ownership of my words and my actions. And I make it a point to be reliable. Again, these little humans aren’t picky by any means. They are taught what to expect from us by us. Remember that. 

Communicate with your children

mother and children on a sofa

In this paragraph, I am going to talk about communication. It is really key. When raising children, it’s okay to talk. (Notice how I say talk, not yell.) Sometimes, this is easier said than done. But, I am a firm believer in communicating openly with your kids even, and especially, when it comes to disciplining them.

These beings are so authentic, in and of themselves, that we owe them the same transparency. Be honest about who you are, what you need, and what you expect from your youngsters.

When you open the door of communication children are more readily available and encouraged to talk to you. Reinforce their attempts to communicate with you and it will continue through to their young adult years when it is truly vital.

“…try working opportunities to communicate into your daily routines.”

But, if you have had a hard time opening up in the past, or you’re raising a child who makes it a bit challenging to communicate, try working opportunities to communicate into your daily routines. My boys and I share a devotional together every night.

My oldest son, Tai, is the type of child who only speaks about things that he is asked about. So, each night I talk to my boys about a few Bible principles based on what we have read.

We discuss ways in which they have witnessed or executed these principles in their real world. Since topics come up that I might not think to ask about otherwise, this has proved to be a great way to gain insight into my son’s life.

You can also try sharing with your little ones during bedtime stories. Perhaps sharing an original story about when you were a kid will encourage them to share a tale or two.

Plus, I am almost certain you will have some laughs along the way. Like learning, all children communicate differently. Do your research, find out what works for your child, and use it consistently.

Provide your children with a faith based foundation

photo of child reading holy bible

“All scripture is breathed out by God and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy, 3:16-17, NIV)

“Above all, as you raise your children, learning about and practicing your faith together can teach them self-discipline, kindness, love, and the other fruits of the spirit.”

Lastly, provide your children with a little faith. My faith and the relationship I have with God are very important to me. If this is something that we share in common, it should also be something that is evident to your child. Your relationship with God can teach your child how to form and foster a spiritual and meaningful connection with God and other people.

Above all, as you raise your children, learning about and practicing your faith together can teach them self-discipline, kindness, love, and the other fruits of the spirit. When I need to teach my sons a life lesson, I find myself showing them how to apply God’s word to their personal lives.

“Remember the story of David?”

“Remember that devotional about fear?”

I do not think there is a fundamental truth that the Good Book leaves untouched. Referencing biblical scripture also helps children see that even you do not always have all of the answers. And sometimes it is okay to seek help and information from reliable sources and/or just give your worries to God. The boys and I are growing together. So when I learn, they learn too.

Let’s start a discussion. What are some things you struggle with when attempting to build your evolved nest at home? Leave a comment down below and let’s all see what we can do to help each other.

For more tips on raising children, visit these amazing articles below.

Raised Nested: Species – Typical Child Raising| Psychology Today

Raising Children: 11 Things Kids Want From Their Parents

Nine Steps to More Effective Parenting

How Parents Can Raise a Good Child

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