Every day, just before bed, we ask our child if she is happy. This is a really important question to put to a child because usually you will get a straight answer like it not!
If you come from a big family, children can get lost if they have siblings with stronger personalities. You may have two or more children and one of those may command more of your attention than the others. If you are a parent of an only child, you can of course dedicate much more time.
Read a book, give a cuddle, give reassurance.
As a parent we need to give our children the reassurance that their thoughts and views are valued. Spending just 10 minutes a day just before bed reading a book, giving a cuddle, or reassuring your child how much you love them, can provide a feeling of warmth and security for a child. Buying gifts cannot buy a childs happiness. When you are getting your child ready for bed, talk with them about how you feel about how they are progressing. Lots of encouragement will send them to sleep feeling good about themselves. Your child should be able to come to you with anything good or bad. This will give them the reassurance that they can make mistakes without worrying about how you will react. Remember, when you shout at your kids, they will fear you and not respect you.
Explore different cultures
Introduce your child to different people, share activities together where your children are exposed to people of all walks of life and those who are less fortunate. Maybe you could introduce your child to different people from playgroups, church or playdates with friends from school. Some elderly family members or their friends enjoy spending time with children so you could factor that into your day. Travel abroad if you can. Encourage your children to eat different foods from different cultures. Cook with your child, show them how you would do it, play memory games with them whilst cooking by asking them to remember all the ingredients. Children are more eager to eat something that they have cooked themselves so choose healthy ingredients.
Consider doing all activities with your child, including the ones you would not be interested in. Just because you don’t like it, it doesn’t mean that you should exclude that from your childrens journey in life. For example, take them on a camping or caravanning trip, climb a tree, put on some wellies, take a walk around the lake or go up in a cable car over the Thames. Children should experience all the joys the world has to offer, not just what Mummy or Daddy likes or dislikes. Let your children get muddy, just bring a spare set of clothes! Paint pictures, make mud pies in the garden, head to the park. Again, travel abroad if you can. Exercise is good for you and your child so when you are doing things with your child, make sure you are getting something out of it too. It will make it much more enjoyable for everyone.
As well as activities, it is good to encourage your child to have quiet time and one to one time with you, particularly in the evenings. Playing music and dancing 20 minutes before bed time will not help you or your child have a good nights sleep. Encourage them to have some quiet time. Studies have shown that mediation or yoga can be really beneficial to a child’s development so you may want to try that when implementing this in your childs day.
Don’t base your child’s upbringing on what you did or didn’t receive or like as a child. Use your past to enrich your child’s but don’t make it about you. Your child will have some of your traits, but remember they will have lots more of their own.
Listen and communicate
Teach your child to listen and communicate with others calmly. Use the term “listening ears” at home when your child is being particularly vocal and not paying attention to what is going on around them. You can also point to your ears to motion to the child that they are not listening properly. Teaching your child to communicate calmly will benefit them greatly throughout the rest of their life. You may have heard of the saying “when you lose your temper, you lose control”, that is very true for children. Not only will you benefit from this, your child will too.
Why so many questions?
Your child will ask many questions, some of which you will not know the answer to unless you have a device to hand to google it! Don’t guess or ignore a childs questions. If you are asked a question and you don’t know the answer, say “let’s look it up”. You could also ask a question back “What do you think?”. You need to value your childs opinions and their right to ask questions (as long as they are not rude ones!).
Homework is not just about school homework, although it is very important to do this with your child. Homework is the encouragement and support that you all give each other so that you all live in a happy and healthy environment. This also includes giving each other love and space when it is needed. Your children learn from you so when you show your partner or family members love and care, this will reflect on your children.