Have you ever wondered if your child is as happy, well behaved and successful as they could be? Are they a pleasure to have around?
Successful parents know that if their children are to grow up happy, well behaved, confident and resilient they must have experienced a loving, nurturing, supportive childhood in an emotionally stable environment.
Children need acceptance and approval
Children need to feel accepted for who they are, no matter the mistakes they might make along the way. Children have an immense wish to please their parents. If, therefore, we as parents, are over-critical and harsh the child’s self-perceptions will be negative which will lead to low self-esteem and often poor, misjudged, behaviours.
When encouragement is not forthcoming in the home, the child can lose hope of ever receiving approval leading to disappointment and a cynical view of life.
Successful parents know that their children learn about their own self-worth from how others react to them. If the child gets willing acceptance, patience, approval and respect, their view of themselves will be positive, behaviours less troubled and they will have the confidence to make efforts and achieve successes.
Children need to feel safe
Children find it very difficult to cope in homes where parents are inconsistent, display severe mood swings, explosive anger or intense anxiety. Children who fear the reactions of those around them often show hurt, withdrawal and resentment.
Parents of successful children know that in calm households children learn to trust the reactions of their parents; love and support are always available and that any conflicts will be resolved quickly and respectfully.
Children will feel safe and protected which will lead them to being happy and well behaved. All parents and caregivers need to give predictable and consistent responses to situations.
Children need limitations
Homes without consistent, fair, rules lead to children who feel anxious and afraid; these children often misbehave as a way of trying to gain some control over their lives.
Successful parents know they need to provide consistent and fair boundaries so that their children can feel secure in their world.
It is important for the child that these rules are reasonable and therefore non-negotiable; the world can seem unpredictable and therefore threatening without them.
Routines and rules provide structure and a feeling of safety and certainty for the child helping them to feel happy and content. Children need you to love them enough to say ‘no’ and mean it. They will love you and respect you for it.
Children need love, time
In today’s busy world it is often the children who miss out. If your children are starting their day watching a movie or playing on an iPad instead of having a family breakfast and chatting or laughing with you about the day ahead then you are both missing out. We can always make excuses for being busy but we do have choices; we choose to have children and we can choose to make time for them.
Successful parents spend time with their children, quality time where the child has focused attention, helping to build strong foundations and relationships.
Sharing books, for example, is a very special activity to enjoy with your child. Parents also actively engage with their children in playing games, going for a walk, going swimming, and generally enjoying each other’s company. They do not just drive their children to activities but stay and share in the experience. Parents of successful children enjoy time spent together rather than considering that time just another chore.
Providing emotional support for your child will ensure that they develop into a happy, independent, young people who feel secure enough to confidently experience their world, problem solve situations as they arise and have a sense of happiness as they grow.
Giving children acceptance, protection, security and time will help to lay strong foundations for the future. Workshops are available to explore this topic in greater detail and to help you raise successful children.
Susie Bodden is a chartered educational psychologist.