Young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships can affect many aspects of their development. For young children, the world is full of experiences. As they mature, family relationships touch all areas of their development – thinking, social, emotional, physical, behavioural, and moral. Good family relationships that are stable in the early years help children develop good self-confidence, motivation to learn and achievement in school. Later in life, they contribute to the ability to talk instead of fight, knowing the difference between right and wrong, making and keeping friends and being a valued family member. Further, good family relationships can support a child in eating and sleeping well.
Some things you can do to develop good family relationships:
Finding a time every day to be together as a family
Remembering to talk, share and laugh when you spend time together
Having alone time with your child to share ideas and connect with each other
Regularly plan fun things for the whole family
Including your child in daily life
Your child has an opportunity to learn important lessons from you and the family and to acquire important habits with your help. Parents and family support and model daily life and routines for a child both consciously and unconsciously. By including your child in daily life activities, you offer him opportunities to contribute to household routines and develop a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
Some ways you might consider including your child in daily life are:
Asking your child to help create family rules
Assigning your child chores such as clearing the table after a meal or helping wash dishes and put them away
Having your child assist in making a shopping list and/or cooking a meal
Inviting your child to help sort the laundry or fold and stack clean clothes. Even very young children can shake out the wet washing or ‘help’ with putting clean clothes away.
By including your child in your daily life and routines, you have an opportunity to provide more one-to-one attention. You will be able to really listen to what your child is saying and focus a reply to extend their thinking. You might be able to tap into your child’s concerns or ideas and strengthen your bonds through sharing and understanding.
By including your child in your daily routines, you open up the opportunity for you and your child to discuss any number of topics and address questions in a meaningful conversation. As you engage in your daily routines with your child, you may talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it is meaningful not just to you or the child, but to the whole family. Having some one-to-one time with your child while engaging in daily activities allows your child the space and time to ask questions with your attention focused solely on him. Your child will benefit from observing and interacting with you while engaging in daily life activities with meaningful questions being posed and addressed. As you show how to attend to daily tasks, you can also encourage your child to consider why these things need to be done. This way, you are supporting your child in thinking more deeply about how to answer and pose questions clearly and intelligently. While children are a part of your daily routine, you may use the time to recall past events, predict what might happen next, or seek information related to the routine.
Relationships are built through trust and support and your child begins building his at home. Through mutual respect, positive and consistent time spent together, and involvement in daily routines, your child develops a deeper understanding of his place within the family community. All the skills your child learns through these routines may then be used when he goes into the wider community and builds relationships with other children and adults.