Parents who are dependable, consistent, respectful, and responsive to
their children help them to develop a sense of security. These qualities are
especially important for parents of preschool children because they are gaining
a basic sense of trust in themselves and in the significant people in their
lives. This sense of trust lays the foundation for learning, social skills,
adaptability, and emotional development. Secure children also maintain and
strengthen their attachment to their parents.
Dependable parents are trustworthy and
available to help a child answer questions and solve problems. By being
dependable, parents help children gain the trust that is necessary for them to
confidently explore their world. Parents who are not dependable confuse
children and make them insecure or overly cautious of the wider world.
Consistent parents set rules, stick by them,
and follow through with the expected consequences. They avoid acting out of
anger or frustration. They keep promises. They do not make promises they cannot
keep. Children learn that the world is a predictable place and that life is
more pleasant when rules are followed. When parents are not consistent,
children do not know what to expect and often fear their parents because they
can't predict their parents' reactions or behavior. Such children may become
reserved, dependent, and distrustful of their own choices and abilities.
Alternately, they may become defiant because they believe that following rules
doesn't lead to a predictable outcome.
Respectful parents acknowledge children's
feelings, desire for choice and control, and independence. They do not shame,
laugh at, or constantly correct their child's behavior. Parents who are
respectful assure children that their ideas and feelings are important and
valued. This regard helps children develop positive self-esteem, which benefits
them throughout their lives.
Responsive parents provide help when needed
and unlimited, unconditional love. They actively listen to their children and
answer questions. Responsive parents reward their children's curiosity by
showing interest and sharing themselves freely. These characteristics stimulate
a child's love of learning and help children to form healthy
March 26, 2009
Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics
& Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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