- Have Heart-to-Heart Conversations
Ask your child, ”How was your day?” and actively listen to the answer. Be available when your child wants to talk, even if it’s not the best time for you. If they tell you about a challenge they are facing, let them finish the story before helping them solve the problem. Many kids are having a tough time dealing with losses they have experienced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If you see signs of anxiety or depression, talk with your paediatrician. See How to Talk About Mental Health With Your Child and Their Pediatrician for more information.
- Hold Time Together Dear
Mark game nights or other family activities on your calendar so that everyone can look forward to enjoying time together. With cold winter weather and the ongoing spread of COVID-19, take the opportunity to spend more time at home playing and connecting as a family. Also, carve out one-on-one time with your children regularly to do something they enjoy. Put away cell phones, tablets and other media devices during these special times and focus on each other.
- Share the Love of Reading
Start reading to your child beginning in infancy. Many studies show that reading together strengthens parent-child bonds and promotes positive parenting. Plus, when you read to or with your child, you help them build a foundation for success in school, which is linked to long-term wellness.
- Think Hugs First
When your child is angry, irritable or in a bad mood, try not to take it personally. Calm your emotions first, perhaps by taking a deep breath, and then give a quick hug, cuddle, pat, secret nod or other sign of affection. Once they are also calm and feeling better, consider talking with them about the event and how they might better manage those strong emotions next time.
- Embrace Health & Safety
Show how much you care by regularly taking your children to the doctor for well-child care visits. Ensure they are up-to-date on vaccines to protect them against infectious diseases, including COVID-19, flu, and other recommended immunisations. Teach them how to be safe from injuries, provide a healthy and nutritious diet, and encourage reasonable amounts of sleep and exercise to help them grow healthy and strong. Create a safe home environment, and use seat belts or car seats every time you are in a vehicle.
- Discipline With Love
Use positive, non-violent discipline. Harsh physical and verbal punishments don’t work and damage long-term physical and mental health. From an early age, explain clear and consistent rules that your children can understand. Give praise when they follow them—not just punishment when they don’t. Calmly explain consequences and follow through right away when rules are broken.
- Choose Words with Care
Use plenty of positive and encouraging words when talking with your child. Model consideration and gratitude by saying “please” and “thank you.” Skip the sarcasm, mockery and put-downs, even if teasing. Children often don’t understand your purpose. Even if they do, these messages can harm self-esteem and create negative ways of talking and connecting.
- Care for the Earth
Spend time together in nature, exploring ways to appreciate and protect it. Taking steps to care for the environment will show your children how you care about their future. Many children and teens hear about or experience climate-change-fueled disasters such as wildfires and severe storms. Talk with them about their concerns in an honest, hopeful, developmentally appropriate, and solution-oriented way. For tips, see Talking With Children About Climate Change.
- Forgive Mistakes, Including Your Own
If you lose your cool and react harshly to your child, apologise and explain how you will handle the situation in the future. Be sure to keep your promise. Also, forgive yourself. No one is perfect. Understanding how to forgive is essential for your child to accept their own mistakes and build confidence and resilience.
- Cook & Eat Together
One of the best ways to teach your children about good food choices and enjoy each other’s company is to cook together. Involve them in the entire process, from planning the menus to shopping for ingredients to preparing and serving the meal. Family meals are an excellent opportunity to talk and connect. Put away any electronic devices, including your phone.
- Foster Friendships
Help your child develop positive relationships with friends, siblings, and community members. Teach them about the value of kindness. Encourage your child to participate in activities that require teamwork, such as sports. Get to know your child’s friends and talk about responsible and respectful relationships.
- Make Room in Your Heart for a Pet
Consider adopting a pet if possible. Having a pet can help make some children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by increasing their physical activity, enhancing their overall positive feelings, and offering another way to connect with someone they care about.
- Continue to Show Affection & Attention
Remember, all children want their parent’s attention, no matter their age. Make time every day to talk. Young people are more likely to make healthy choices if they stay connected with family members.
3 Words to Share Without Limit