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Children's relationships with primary caregivers provides the foundation for their feelings about themselves and others. Children often reserve their most challenging behaviors and most intense emotions for the people that they are closest to. Therefore, parents bear the brunt of negative behavior.
Parents can help children develop positive relationships by making time for child-directed play.
Guidelines for Parent-Child Play Sessions
Don't impose your own ideas or structure. For example, don't say, "Why don't you draw a picture of a truck?
Don't be uninvolved in your child's play.
Don't be reluctant or self-conscious to participate in make-believe or fantasy play.
Don't make angry threats in response to misbehavior.
Don't create stressful or pressured play contexts. For example, do not play competitive games that create pressure for "performance."
Do follow your child's lead and pace.
Do participate actively by joining in the play and by commenting on your child's actions and feelings For example, "You're working so hard on that block tower!"
Do "let go" and allow yourself to become involved in your child's play.
Do provide matter-of-fact limits and warnings. For example, "It's not okay for you to draw on the table. If you continue to draw on the table, our playtime will be over for today." Follow through with consequences! For example, "You continued to draw on the table so our playtime is over for today."
Do relax and enjoy positive time with your child.
Focus on the positive in interactions with your child.
Use kind and polite words.
Avoid the "let sleeping dogs lie" approach.
Children will work harder to earn a positive "reward" than to avoid something negative.
Smiles, hugs, and praise are the best rewards you can give.
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