Babies and children listen to what you say and copy what you do from the moment they are born. By watching how you behave, your child will learn about how to react in similar situations. You are your child’s role model. It’s really important to notice the behaviours that we want to see in our children, so that they know to repeat these.
Tips to encourage model behaviour:
- Show appreciation and love through words and affection. Your child will learn to talk and act based on how you talk to them and how you treat them.
- Give your child lots of praise when you feel proud of them or when you see a desirable behaviour. This helps your child learn what positive behaviour looks like. Reward the behaviour with lots of attention, praise, cuddles and favourite activities. Don’t worry about praising your child too much. Make it clear to your child what you are praising.
- Be polite and respectful when you talk to your child. This will help show your child how to talk and interact with others. Saying please and thank you will set a good example.
- Create family rules that apply to everyone. Keep rules clear and simple, suitable for your child’s age and ability. Reward and praise your child for following agreed routines and rules. Use positive language to reinforce these expectations e.g. “we use gentle hands” instead of “no hitting”. Tell and show our child what we want them to do instead of what we don’t want them to do. For example, say “Please put your toys in the box” and show them what to do, rather than “Don’t leave your toys out”.
- Let your child see you express and deal with difficult emotions. When you express your anger without shouting or hurting others, you will teach your child how to deal with angry feelings.
- Nobody is perfect. Everyone loses their cool occasionally and says things they are sorry for. It’s okay to say sorry to your child if you have been cross. This helps children to learn that it is OK to make mistakes and how to make it right. Apologising to them or giving them a cuddle after using harsh words helps them to see what they can do to make it right when they lose control of their emotions. You are showing your child what to do and it will make them feel valued.
- Using the acronym HALT. ‘Is your child Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?’ can be a helpful reminder to stop and think about the possible feelings and needs underneath the behaviour, before responding.
- Spend quality time with your child. Your child will love this special time with you and is a great opportunity to chat and spend time together as a family, and will also help their development. Examples include playing a game, reading a book, or eating together as a family.
Look after yourself
Meeting up with other parents may help remind you that you're not alone. Your Family Information Service will be able to tell you what’s on in your area.
If you want to learn more about positive parenting, find out what parenting support and groups your Local Authority offer.
Family Lives offer a confidential and free helpline service for families in Wales on any aspect of parenting and family life. To speak to someone call 0808 800 2222 or visit Parenting and Family Support – Family Lives to access the live chat.
Parent Talk Cymru (Action for Children) offer a free and confidential live chat with a parenting coach available in English and Welsh. Visit Parent Talk Cymru