Being a mum or dad can be hard work, nut it is hugely rewarding. Here are some tips on developing a strong relationship with your child that makes them feel loved and secure.
Recognise your child is unique
Every child has a unique personality and abilities. One child’s likes and dislikes may be totally different to another’s and what worked with one child may not work with another. Your child needs to know that you love them just the way they are and that they are special.
Build their self-esteem
Make you child feel good about themselves through saying and doing kind and positive things for example, tell them how important they are to you, tell them they have a good sense of humour, or a fantastic smile.
Praise and encourage them
Encourage your children when they have done well. Pick out specific behaviours and achievements to praise and tell them that you are proud of them. Children also love to ‘overhear’ you praising them to other people.
Give them a sense of belonging
Children want to feel that they belong and that they are part of the family. Family traditions, such as celebrating birthdays, playing games together or going camping to a favourite spot, are great ways to create lasting memories and build a strong sense of belonging.
Give them time and attention.
Attending quickly and with care to the physical needs of young children makes them feel happy and secure, but also give each of your older children individual time when they have your full attention and you can catch up on their news.
Have fun with them
Playing with your child and having fun together will deepen your relationship. Let them help you with chores (even if it takes longer!) and make time to read with them, even when they can read for themselves, as this will give you a special shared experience.
Listen to them
If your child feels you are listening to them when they are young, they are more likely to keep talking to you as they get older! Stop what you are doing so that they have your full attention. If your child is small, get down to their level. Be aware that some children may find it easier to talk while you are doing an activity together. Don’t try to reason with a very distressed child; a hug or a cuddle may help calm them down.
Discipline and boundaries
Boundaries, or rules, help children to feel secure – all children need to know just how far they can go in terms of behaviour. Boundaries also keep them safe and teach then to respect other people. Be loving and consistent with discipline – make sure you mean what you say and follow it through. Discipline also needs to be appropriate for your child’s age and maturity. Don’t forget to let them know you still love them even when they need discipline.
Keep them safe
Make sure you always know where your child is and who they are with. Put boundaries in place about where they can and cannot go, and don’t feel pressured into letting them go somewhere or do something that you feel unsure about. Bullying via mobile devices and online has become more common and children may meet strangers on the internet. Encourage your child to talk to you about anything that upsets them or makes them uncomfortable. Monitor what they do or see online and consider putting restrictions such as only having access to a family computer or a simple phone. Use parental controls and take advantage of the options given by your internet provider to prevent access to inappropriate websites.
Establish a Routine
Children feel happy when they know what to expect and having a structured routine gives them a sense of security – it also make life easier for you!
Let them grow
As they grow, help your child to learn to take responsibility for their own actions. Where appropriate, give them choices about decisions that affect them and help them understand the consequences of their choices. Make sure they know it is OK to make mistakes, otherwise they will be scared of trying anything new.
Tell them that you love them as often as you can!