Every child deserves to feel accepted for who they are, to be in a safe and nurturing environment, to know that they are loved and valued, to be treated with respect, and to receive the support they need to grow and thrive. Providing children with these essential elements is crucial for their physical, emotional, and cognitive development, their well-being, and their ability to reach their full potential. Let's take a closer look at some of these things now.
Acceptance: Acceptance is crucial for a child's emotional and mental development. Children should feel like they are accepted for who they are regardless of their background, social status, religion, gender, ability or race. Encouraging open communication with your child and supporting their interests and hobbies can help them feel accepted, as can celebrating and embracing the unique traits that make them who they are.
Safety: Children feel safe when they know they are protected from harm. Making their environment a physically and emotionally safe space can help provide them with a sense of security. Talking to your child about their concerns and fears, and addressing them with kindness and empathy can help to provide them with feelings of comfort and reassurance in times when they feel unsafe or afraid.
Love: Love is essential for a child's mental and emotional growth. There are so many different ways to show love - from physical affection like a hug or holding hands, to telling them how much you love and appreciate them, to praising their accomplishments and celebrating them. Children also need consistent quality time with their primary caregivers to help maintain strong parent-child bonds and model healthy connections. All of these things contribute to ensuring your child feels loved.
Respect: Respect is not something that should be earned, but something that should be given to every child. Listen to them when they speak, and take their thoughts and feelings into account. Treat them with dignity, and avoid talking over them or being dismissive of their opinions and emotions. The relationship between parent and child has the power to set the tone for their future relationships. When you show your child respect, you are teaching them that this is an important standard for every other relationship they have.
Support: Every child deserves to feel supported. Being a cheerleader for your child and encouraging their goals and aspirations will help them to develop self-esteem and self-confidence. Supporting them in their decision-making process, offering constructive feedback and helping them find solutions to problems can bolster their sense of self-worth and help to develop resilience and other important life skills.
Here are some phrases you might like to try to help your child feel more of these things:
I love you just as you are.
You are so special to me.
I am always here for you.
I appreciate you.
I can see how hard you try when you...
I love about you that...
I am so proud of you for...
Talking with your child about these things can help to open up conversation and encourage them to talk about their feelings and voice any unmet needs. Try asking them some of these questions:
What is your favourite thing to do lately?
Who is your favourite friend? Why are they your favourite?
What is something about you that makes you feel proud?
What thoughts have been circling in your mind lately?
Has anything made you feel worried or afraid lately?
What is your favourite activity that we do together?
What is something kind you have done lately?
What is your favourite thing about yourself?
What do you like to do when you feel sad?
What do you like to do when you feel happy?
Is there anything you're really excited for?
Is there anything I do or say that you don't like?
What is something I do or say that makes you feel loved?
What makes you feel special?
When you have had a bad day, what can I do to make you feel better?