A man consoles his crying daughterNo family is perfect. At times, each one must weather sad or unpleasant events. The key to maintaining a healthy, happy family and keeping your relationships intact is to begin building a firm foundation of love and care with your children, one day at a time, from infancy onward. Some important steps to take every day include:

  • Make sure your children know you love them, even when they do something wrong.
  • Encourage your children. Praise their achievements― even small ones― and the talents and skills they are developing.
  • Spend time with your children. Do things together that you both enjoy. Listen to what your child is saying, through both words and actions.
  • Use nonphysical options for discipline. Depending on your child’s age and development, these may include simply redirecting your child’s attention, offering choices or using “time out.”

Healthy Kids = Happy Kids

Make sure your children are well cared for by making sure they:

  • Eat nutritious foods. Regular meal times help ensure that your children are getting the right nutrition at the right time. Letting them help you prepare the meal teaches them healthy habits, responsibility and independence, while having fun spending time with you.
  • Receive good medical care. Regular medical visits beginning right after birth allow your children’s doctor to monitor their development, immunize them against various diseases and discuss any questions, concerns or frustrations you have about your children’s health or behavior.
  • Develop good sleep habits. Having a regular bedtime routine helps children settle down, prepare for sleep and wake up rested.
  • Are kept safe. Infants should never be out of a parent or caretaker’s sight unless they are in a crib or another equally safe place. Childproof your home as soon as your little one starts crawling. All children need supervision and frequent reminders about behaviors that are dangerous. Choose caregivers that you trust to be sure your children are safe, even when you can’t be with them.

Communication is the Key

Good communication can help resolve issues before they become problems. To help build an open and trusting relationship:

  • Make time for your children.
  • Listen carefully to their fears and concerns without judging or dismissing them, and make sure your children know they should not be worried about telling you anything. This is especially important during the teen years.
  • Know where your children are and who they are with, and agree upon a time when they should return. Make sure your children know where you are at all times and how you can be contacted.
  • Be cautious about anyone who has unsupervised contact with your children, and be alert to any adult who is paying an unusual amount of attention to them.
  • Help your children understand what is “appropriate” touching and what is unacceptable behavior. Tell them that you want to know if anyone, including a relative or friend, is behaving in a way that worries them.

A healthy, nurturing relationship with your child is built through countless interactions over the course of time. It requires a lot of energy and work, but the rewards are well worth it!

Find more age-specific parenting information by clicking the links below: