Tips for Parents

Basics

  • From birth, your child is an individual who deserves to be treated with respect and love. Be present and supportive, not intrusive;
  • Be attentive to and responsive to your child’s needs;
  • When you are in public with your child, ignore people’s reactions to your behaviour with your child. Just be present with your child;
  • When possible follow your child’s needs. When your child is in danger or putting someone else in danger, take charge;
  • When your child is crying attend to them sensitively. Each time. You can never spoil a child with love;
  • Objects can never replace the importance of your presence for the child. Be with your child. You do not need toys to play together;
  • When spending time with your child try to be fully present mentally and physically;
  • When the child is very young, focus on playing games and not on the child’s learning to read/write. They will have time, space, and pressure to develop those skills as they get older. Now it is their time to explore life through games.

Dealing with feelings

  • Give your child the space to express his/her feelings, positive and negative. In this way your child will learn that it is ok to express negative feelings;
  • Help your child understand why they are experiencing feelings of anger, sadness, pain and support them as you help your child process his/her feelings;
  • When your child is crying because of having fallen and scraped a knee, hold and empathise with the child, and allow them to cry. Instead of brushing it off with “there’s nothing to cry about”, “everything’s fine”, “it will pass” explain to the child that the pain they are feeling is a natural result of the knee being scraped and reassure them that the pain will decrease after the bruise has been attended to. In this way the child is learning that they will find help when they need it and that it is ok for them to express their emotions and to seek help.

Consequences

  • When correcting the child’s behaviour, focus on the behaviour. Do not blame the child.  “When you throw food on the floor you make me angry because it is wasted food and then I have to clean it up. If you do not want to eat that food just leave it in your plate” is better than “you’re such a difficult child! I hate you!”;
  • Always give reasons for asking your child to stop a behaviour which is annoying you and discuss your reasons with your child. “Because I said so” is not a valid reason. Your role is to support your child’s learning and development, and not to give orders;
  • Consequences are important to give according to your child’s behaviour. Praise, hug, pat your child on the shoulder when your child behaves well. When your child misbehaves, give an immediate consequence which is related to the child’s behaviour. Importantly, in both cases, explain the situation to the child and why they are receiving the consequence, positive or negative;
  • When no negative choices are given to a child for misbehaving, the child will not learn to be responsible for his/her actions, will find it harder to understand and keep to rules in a game, and risks being isolated and/or ignored by his/her peers;
  • When no positive choices are given to a child for good behaviour, the child will grow constantly seeking approval from outsiders, feeling that they are not doing enough.

Your and Your Partner

  • Take time to yourself! Do something you love doing. Relax! A child being part of your life does not mean that your own development stops. Plus, the more fulfilled you are, the more present you will be for your child;
  • Your child deserves good quality time with both you and your partner. It is the responsibility of both of you to spend quality time with the child;
  • Take time as a couple to look at each other, to discuss, to go on dates! Having a child also has an impact on your relationship. Take care of it – keep it alive!;
  • As your child grows, it is important that you and your partner discuss certain issues the child might soon be approaching you with, before s/he does (e.g. Time curfews, dress style, choice of hobbies, choice of friends, drug and alcohol use, sexuality, etc.). In this way you and your partner have time to compromise on how to deal with situations as they arise and keep in touch with each other’s thoughts.

Growing up

  • If you are going shopping, take a snack the child likes, or even a game the child enjoys. This will help to distract the child when s/he wants something off the shelf, and makes the shopping experience a more enjoyable one for both of you. For older children, involve them in the shopping experience – it can be fun and educational at the same time. They can help you choose the ingredients for the family dinner, you can do counting games, additions of product prices, and help you sort out the shopping once back home;
  • When your child starts crawling, take precautions. Cover plug sockets, keep sharp objects out of reach. If you have valuable objects which might break, put them away;
  • When your child starts looking around, enhance your child’s exploration by carrying him/her around, showing and naming objects, their colours, and their function. If the objects are dangerous, let the child know and explain why;
  •  When objects are dangerous, explain their use and why they are dangerous to the child. Then, if the child is too young, show them the expression of pain when touching the object. This helps the child understand that that object is dangerous. When the child has a higher understanding of language, explain the consequences to the child and also inform the child that s/he might have to go to the doctor if they get hurt from touching the object.

Last but not least!
  • Play, play, play! Childhood is fun and children learn the most through games;
  • Seek support! Join parent clubs and look for information or professional advice. Parenting is hard work. It is ok to not know;
  • There is no such thing as ‘maternal instinct’. You will face challenges as your child develops and you will learn how to be a parent as you go along. Don’t worry, it’s not about getting it right … it’s about being there to support your child to grow;
  • Relax and enjoy bringing up your child. Yes, it is challenging, but it can be fun!