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I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me
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Parenting children can be enormously rewarding and fulfilling -
but also exhausting and challenging. It is truly the best and the
worst of times. Yet you are the role model for your child, and most
parents, when asked what they really want for their children,
respond with "I want them to be happy". Your parenting choices
really can help - and the love and support you give your children
is critical to their future well-being.
Being a positive parent doesn't only mean better outcomes for your child, but it also has benefits for relationships with other important adults in the child's life, and for you as a parent. As babies and children develop they go through natural stages of development and attachment to their parent. Positive parents recognize these stages and respond accordingly, teaching the child that his or her own actions matter, and that loving relationships are stable and secure, no matter what the circumstances may be.
Positive parenting with a partner also means open and honest communication - and teaching your children - by your own actions - about how to find positive solutions to conflicts. Of course all parents argue, and sometimes it's in front of the children. Yet what is essential for the children is to also see the resolution - to witness how two adults who love each other can solve their differences and return to a stable, caring, supportive relationship, despite the fractious emotions.
For you as a parent, recognizing that there will be ups and downs and taking care of yourself goes a long way. If you are stressed or upset, your children will naturally pick up on this and feel those emotions intensely as well. If you are more relaxed and joyful, your children also mirror those sentiments, and the entire household is more harmonious. We all feel those negative emotions at times - and by watching how we deal with them, our children learn models for their own behaviour in future.
Be there for your child
Maintain a positive relationship with your partner
Help your children develop emotional intelligence
Don't be too hard on yourself
Find optimistic ways to explain things
In recent years there have been some startling discoveries about how the love and support we receive in our earliest years affects our lives. It turns out that love is essential to brain development in the early years of life, particularly to the development of our social and emotional brain systems.
As babies, our nervous systems are profoundly shaped by our earliest relationships and this has lasting consequences for our adult life, despite our inability to remember babyhood. Research shows that the way our brain develops as a baby can affect the way we respond to stress and our future emotional well being. A lack of love and support during the crucial early years can increase the likelihood of future mental health issues and conditions such as anorexia, addiction, and anti-social behaviour.
As parents we often think about the early years of our children's lives as a time to be struggled through, where getting our child "into a good routine" and helping them develop their basic skills in eating, walking and speaking are the most important things. But the research suggests that what matters most is providing unconditional love for our children and helping them feel understood, valued and secure.
In addition to unconditional love, our children also need clear boundaries. Generally, researchers have concluded that there are three main types of parenting approach: Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative.
So perhaps the most important thing we can do for the well-being and emotional development of our children is to combine unconditional love with clear and consistent boundaries and rules.
Why Love Matters
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Supporting people to become confident parents
10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
Making Happy People
The nature of happiness and its origins in childhood
A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age
Recommendations from experts on improving the upbringing of our children
Raising Happy Children
What every child needs their parents to know
Fun and interactive classes to help your child cope with life
Early Childhood Education
How to help children develop their mental, physical and emotional skills
How to be a Happy Mum
Real advice for real women from real women
The Science of Parenting
Explains how to develop your child's full potential based on the latest research
Why it Can Matter More Than IQ
Family & Parenting Institute: Wellbeing
Information and resources about family wellbeing
Provides advice and practical support for single parents
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
Innovative ways to solve problems in the family
The UK's fastest-growing online parenting organisation
Want to worry less and enjoy parenting more?
Parenting and Wellbeing: knitting families together
Draws on extensive research to recommend range of approaches for family support
Relate for Parents & Families
Free online relationship advice for you and your family
The Optimistic Child
How to safeguard children against depression and build lifelong resilience
Your Health and Wellbeing as a Parent
Practical tips on how to look after yourself as a busy parent
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