Raising young children is anything but straightforward, and I think every parent has had moments of wishing they had an instruction manual to reference. Although it can be easy to feel the pressure to be a perfect parent, it is important to keep in mind that no one is perfect and we’re all simply trying our best. If you’re going to make a conscious effort towards any aspect of parenting, being sure your kids' physical and emotional needs are met should be your top priority. Here are some steps to follow that can help you create a safe and comfortable environment for your young children.
How to help children feel safe by meeting emotional needs
Meeting your child’s basic needs, like quality nutrition and sleep, is important but it certainly does not stop there. Your child’s emotional needs are equally as important, especially if you want your child to feel safe and comfortable at home.
Try not to yell
We all know that parenting is trying (to say the least) and no parent is perfect. With this in mind, it is still important to try to avoid yelling at your child and keep a calm tone as often as possible. Yelling at your child can make them feel guilt, shame, sadness, and anger. It’s actually counterproductive because it can make it difficult for your children to understand what they’ve done wrong and may even cause them to act out further. By having patience with your child you’re teaching them that it’s okay to make mistakes sometimes. Using a calm tone, even when you’re angry, can help de-escalate the situation and will not only calm your child but it will calm you too.
Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement involves focusing on the things your child does right and praising them for this behavior, rather than punishing them for things they’ve done wrong. This is a great way to help teach your child right from wrong without making them feel guilty when they do act out. An example of positive reinforcement might involve showing your child how to touch others gently, rather than getting angry at them for hitting or pinching others.
Lead by example
One of the most effective ways to teach your children is by leading by example. It’s pretty obvious that children love to copy their parents, so always keep this in mind and strive to set the tone for your family. Speaking positively about others, showing respect to your children, and maintaining a calm attitude amid stressful situations are a few great ways to lead by examples. Remember, you set the tone for your household, don’t take this power for granted.
Always explain your reasoning
When you do have to lay down the law in your household, make sure you’re always explaining to your children why these rules are set in place. Be sure to explain to kids that their safety is your top priority and always avoid the “because I said so” mentality. By calmly explaining rules to your children, it will help them understand and honor these rules. You’ll also be expressing mutual respect for your child.
Let kids be kids
Safety is obviously very important but you should still give kids some space to explore their environment and act like kids. By making sure your kids have a safe, kid-proof place to play, you can give them more space to learn and grow independently while also knowing that they aren’t in danger. Encouraging your kids to ask questions and express themselves creatively will help with their cognitive development. Also, giving your kids the opportunity to play with other young children will help with their social development.
How to ensure your child’s basic needs are met
Obviously, it is your responsibility to make sure that your child’s basic needs are being met, such as making sure they are fed, clean, and clothed. Meeting these needs may feel a little more complicated than you might have expected, depending on your unique circumstance.
Make sure your home is safe
Safety is one of the most important basic needs to always meet for your child. Children are innocent beings and they rely on you to keep them safe. Always keep a safe home for your young children by making sure there aren’t any dangers such as loose wires or faulty power outlets. Regularly check smoke detectors to ensure they are functioning properly and establish an escape plan with your family, in the event that a fire does occur.
Talk to caretakers if your child has spent the day away
If your child spends days away at a school or a caretaker’s house, while you’re working, it’s important to ask questions about your child’s day such as whether they ate and how much, how their day went, and whether or not they napped. Many children come home from school hungry and tired, this is normal so make sure to have food prepared and ready to feed them.
Always offer nutritious foods
Many young children will develop picky food preferences, but it is important to continue offering healthy foods such as vegetables to give your child the opportunity to try them. Although it can feel frustrating when your young child continuously asks for foods such as pizza and pasta, it is a part of your job as the parent to still attempt to feed them healthier foods as well. Think of it this way: a kid's taste preferences change constantly and if you never offer the vegetables, they’ll never have a chance to determine if they now like them. You can still give them foods they like, with vegetables mixed in or incorporated.
Parenting is not an easy task but it is important to recognize your ability and have patience in yourself as a parent. Remember that no one is perfect and you’re bound to make some mistakes, raising a child is the ultimate learning process after all. You will feel yourself growing into your role as a parent as your child grows and develops. The most important reminder is that you are capable of keeping your child safe, happy, and comfortable.
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