A Lifetime Commitment
Children are living messages we send to a time we will never see. No legacy will leave the world is more important than your children. [Author Neil Postman]
Being a good parent requires a tremendous investment -- in time, energy, and unconditional love. Being a parent is a responsibility that continues throughout your child's life. The caring support you show to your child as an infant and a toddler, from elementary school through high school, to college and beyond, is expensive and important. But the reward -- watching your child grow into a responsible, caring adult -- is priceless.
Nurturing children involves raising, training and guiding then - - and doing all these things in a loving way. Nurturing means nourishing a child's body, mind and spirit. The well-nurtured child feels unconditional love along with support for his or her developing accomplishments.
Nurture your child by. . . .
Providing Emotional Security
- Talk and act so that children feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves.
- Be gentle.
- Be dependable.
Providing Physical Security
- Provide food, shelter, clothing.
- Teach personal hygiene and nutrition.
- Maintain a family routine.
- Attend to cuts and scrapes.
- Be consistent.
- Ensure rules are appropriate to the age and development of child.
- Be clear about limits and expectations.
- Use discipline to instruct, not punish.
- Participate in your children's lives: activities, school, sports, special events and days, celebrations, friends.
- Include your children in your activities.
- Share your time and love with your children.
Encouraging and Supporting
- Be positive.
- Encourage children to follow their interests.
- Let children disagree with you.
- Teach new skills.
- Let them make mistakes.
- Express verbal and physical affection.
- Be affectionate when your children are physically or emotionally hurt.
Caring for Yourself
- Give yourself personal time.
- Keep yourself healthy.
- Maintain friendships.
- Accept love.
Trusting and Respecting
- Recognize children's right to have their own feelings, friends, activities and opinions.
- Promote independence.
- Allow for privacy.
- Respect feelings for other parent.
- Believe your children.
- Prepare more than you punish.
Your children need you to teach them what it is you want them to do. Use your child's bad behavior to teach, and practice the right behavior with your child. Occasions of punishment without love and instruction breed conflict, and as children grow older, it becomes more difficult. Those parents who use teaching to treat bad behavior punish far less.
- Communicate more than you control.
Talk with your children to work things out. Say, "Let's talk this over." Talk with your children at meals, bedtime, quiet time, one-on-one. Parents who talk with their children strengthen important bonds.
- Encourage more than you criticize.
Children need to understand that they can succeed at what they try to do. They need confidence. Help your children succeed. Praise their achievements. Give them the self-esteem they need to be happy adults.
- Involve and individualize.
Your child needs to be an individual as well as belong to a group. Children need to have experiences with the family as well as alone. Include your children in family activities and other groups. Let them have experiences on their own as well. Tell them what is special about them, and let them know how happy you are that they are part of your family. Your children will grow up to have better relationships and feel better about themselves.
- Love more than you isolate.
No child ever said, "You loved me too much." Your child needs your love more than anything else. "Go to your room," "Get away from me" and "Stop talking" can isolate children. Work through problems with your children instead of sending them away. End times of correction with affection and love. "Time out" is a brief period of time a child is given to calm down and gain control. The goal is to "self-regulate," not to punish. "Time out" should only be used when your child gets angry or frustrated. This helps the child to "put it together" in a safe space. Remember, if "time out" is used as punishment, it doesn't help a child figure out how to control his or her emotions.
- Love enough to limit.
Every successful person learns to apply limits on his or her behavior. Teach your children how to behave at different times and in different environments. Set clear limits of behavior. Children who learn self-control have less anxiety and live more fulfilled, productive lives.