One way to help children belong is to focus on building positive relationships with them. Strong positive relationships can go a long way toward helping children learn to cooperate and be responsible. Four ingredients of strong relationships are:
- Showing respect,
- Having fun,
- Giving encouragement,
- Showing love.
Parents often complain that their children do not respect them. Yet many times, adults show children a lack of respect by nagging, yelling, hitting or talking down. They will do things for their children that they can do for themselves and at times will follow a double standard.
Doing too much for children teaches dependency, not self-reliance. In a democratic family, no one is considered more or less important than anyone else. You show respect when you treat your child like an equal. This does not mean that you are not in charge; it is your job to guide your child, however, you can do it respectfully.
Democratic parenting encourages children to make some decisions alone. They ask for their children’s ideas about some family decisions, too. This shows children that parents respect their opinions also. Many parents find it difficult to let go as their child begins to explore and become a “self.” Parents will pick out their clothing, make decisions for them and not allow them to define themselves.
Having fun might seem impossible in our busy daily lives. Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be a big project. Even the busiest of families can add fun to their daily lives. Spend a least a short time each day with your child whether you play a game, toss a ball or read at bedtime.
Giving encouragement is essential so that children can feel capable, loved and to trust their own decisions. Children need to feel good about themselves. Every child is unique. Your child has many special and wonderful qualities. When you notice these qualities and point them out, your child will feel encouraged.
You can’t say “I love you” enough. Begin your day by telling them you love them and end your day with saying it. Children need hugs and pats on the back in order to feel secure and loved. You show love by your words and your actions. Help build a healthy self-esteem for your child.