Research shows that there are four main styles that parents use: authoritarian, disengaged, permissive and supportive. Parents tend to use one style the most, even they use a mix of these. The supportive style works best for children’s development and well-being. This involves being warm and loving and providing clear support and guidance. Some ways to be a supportive parent are outlined below.
Show love and kindness
The most important thing children need from parents is to feel loved, secure and safe. Children become free to focus their energy on the growing and learning they need to do as part of childhood.
- Be patient and kind with your children. It will bring you closer and build your relationship.
- Show you enjoy spending time with them, have fun and play together.
- Put down your phone and pay attention to children. Talk and really listen, show interest in what interests them.
- Tell children you love them, give them hugs and cuddles.
- Have regular meals together as a family, without TV screens, give them a chance to talk and share your day.
Build on strengths
Help children learn and build on their strengths, it develops resilience and self-confidence.
- Show interest and support children’s learning and keep in touch with their childcare or school.
- Help them have a go at different activities and find what they enjoy or are good at like sport, art, dance, music, languages, writing or science.
- Help them pursue their interests and show them where these could take them in life.
- Encourage children to be creative and play, both indoors and outdoors.
- Share books together, it can be a special time children remember all their lives.
- Seek support and help if children need it.
Be optimistic and positive
How you think and what you say to yourself and your children really matters. Being optimistic and positive creates a happier outlook for your family and models this for your children.
- Notice and talk about the good things in a situation.
- You are a role model for your children. Remember to behave the way you would like them to behave.
- When there are problems, take positive steps to deal with them. Talk about how things will get better or how you’ll get through.
Children need to know what is OK and not OK. Set boundaries and clear rules suitable for their age and development. Be patient as children practice what you want, rules can be changed as they learn.
- Talk about the behavior you want. Try not to constantly say ‘don’t’. Praise children when they do well because this works much better than punishment.
- Say sorry to children when you act unfairly or make mistake. You will be modeling taking responsibility.
- Help children learn, aim high and see all the possibilities for their future.
- Help children have trusted adults they can talk to, also older children benefit from mentors who can expand their horizons.