The Only Thing Your Child Really Needs
Parents are the single most significant point of reference for children. The parent is in the best position to provide guidance, affection, and attention so that the child grows to become a happy self-reliant adult. The steps parents take to address developmental and behavioral problems in the early stages can reduce the risk of anxiety, depression, teen alcoholism, or any other mental or physical complication.
Most parents want the best for their child, but they may be weighed down by day-to-day responsibilities. In modern times screen time appears to split the attention of parents as much as it does their children. More working people are taking their work home with them at the end of the day. The result is that young ones are not given sufficient attention and simultaneously are denied the autonomy they need for growth and development. ‘
So What Does Your Child Really Need?
Your child needs daily doses of positive attention. Done regularly this can reduce behavioral problems for children of all ages, improve discipline and cultivate a positive relationship between the parent and the child.
Praising a child for good behavior or for completing an assignment is one way that parents can provide positive attention. Many people are afraid that complements can spoil a child. However, as long as negative behaviors are discouraged, praising a child will motivate them to be more disciplined and willing to listen to their parents.
Showing love, affection and appreciation to your loved ones will see the reduction in tantrums, neediness, and other attention-seeking behaviors. Children are less likely to do these things when their emotional needs are met. Disciplining children by giving timeouts is more effective when they feel their parents are giving them adequate attention.
There are several ways parents can enhance the positive attention they give to children:
- Listening: Take the time to listen to your children. This includes the times when they express their needs and concerns as well as those times they are trying to talk about their aspirations and achievements. Listening needs to be done sympathetically, rather than being judgmental. Empathetic listening allows parents to learn a lot from their children something they can use when communicating with them in the future.
- Activities: One of the best ways to spend quality time with your children is to set aside time for activities. Even parents who are busy should set aside time to plan activities such as preparing dinner, washing dishes, playing basketball, hiking etc. When planning these activities make a point of letting the young ones make decisions such as what to eat, or which restaurant to go to on a certain trip.
Positive attention should also be done to cultivate a positive self-image. We develop our sense of self early and it is critical that every parent, teacher and guardian work towards cultivating their children’s self-esteem as early as they can.
Building self-esteem should be done with the knowledge that children have a sense of self-worth. They need their self-worth reaffirmed so that they tackle day to day challenges with confidence. It can also help avoid problems caused by low self-esteem in teenage years who can become prone to anxiety, substance abuse, teen alcoholism, depression amongst other issues.
There are several things you can do to develop your child’s image:
- Showing Interest: Show interest in your child’s interests and activities. In modern times it is easy for parents to forget to give undivided attention with all the responsibilities and devices splitting their attention. As a parent, make a point of spending 15 minutes with each of your children every day.
- Encourage them to Pursue their Interests: Encouraging children can help improve their self-esteem and sense of responsibility at the same time. If they show interest in singing, swimming or martial arts, encourage them to pursue their interest in completion. Praise is most effective when it is done immediately after it was earned and when it is precise and to the point.
- Helping with Chores: Regardless of the age of your child, it is important to encourage them to help with chores around the house. This will help them develop competencies needed to perform day to day tasks such as cooking, washing dishes, vacuuming the house etc. By developing these competencies they grow up to become more confident and self-reliant.
- Keep Your Expectations Realistic: It is important to remember that each child is unique and will follow their own path to development. It is therefore crucial for those watching over them to set challenging tasks but within reasonable expectations based on their age, skills, and state of mind at the time.
- Failures are Normal: Even as we encourage our young ones to pursue their dreams and be successful in what they do, it is important for parents to realize that failures are normal. They are opportunities for children to learn how to deal with all the unpleasant feelings that come along the way.
Autonomy and Choice
Research shows that autonomy and choice are important for a child’s mental and emotional development. Cultivating autonomy allows them to see and understand that they have control over the choices they make. Scientists believe that children of all ages can benefit when given structured autonomy and choice over various aspects of their lives.
Letting children know they have control over their actions and behavior will help them learn important life skills they’ll need in the future. This may include interacting with other children as well as planning activities with peers without parental involvement.
Even though the young ones cannot be expected to plan all aspects of their lives, parents should create these opportunities for them. Appropriate supervision is required to ensure their well being and safety. But when parents provide the right level of autonomy, not only does it enhance discipline and trust, but it also boosts the child’s self-esteem.
Autonomy is also critical for their mental growth. They need to face challenges on their own to learn how to tackle similar problems in the future. Opportunities for creativity and learning that they can get by organizing their own games, planning a trip, or interacting with friends.
There are ways you can help children develop their sense of autonomy:
- Listening: Listening and respecting their opinion shows them that they matter. It also helps with problem-solving since both of you are in a better position to understand each other.
- Organize Projects: Give them challenging tasks that are within their skill level. These tasks should be taken as a project that needs to be done to completion.
- Offer Choices: When giving instructions, allow children to decide from a set of options. This could be choices such as which toys to play with or which game to play first. Even the negative outcomes that result from these choices provide children with the opportunity to see the relationship between freedom and responsibility.
If you have a problematic relationship with your child due to substance abuse, teen addiction, or delinquent behavior due to peer influence you should consider getting professional help. Family-based therapy is one of the most thoroughly studied and documented as an effective way to address adolescent substance abuse. There is other evidence backed intervention you can get for your loved ones to secure a better future for them.