Raising children is challenging. We work hard to provide for them and give them a structured world where they can grow and develop. Sometimes, though, we get caught up in telling them what they should and shouldn’t do and wonder – are we being supportive parents? That is always a good question to ask ourselves.
Being a supportive parent is about providing for them (a safe home, healthy diet, and basic needs) yes. It is also about being present and involved in their lives. Being supportive means encouraging them and helping our children build the confidence they need to take chances and grow. Here are some specific things you can do to be a supportive parent.
Show Interest in Them
Whether it’s school or their hobbies and interests, be encouraging. Engage with your child and ask them what they’re doing in school. Ask what hobbies they enjoy. In both cases, ask to see what they’re working on. Expressing interest is important.
One of the most important things we can do for our children is listening to them. Whether they’re just telling us about their day at school or confiding in us a worry they have, showing that we hear them, and care is important for their mental and emotional development.
Acknowledge and Encourage
When your child does something good – art you enjoy, a clever story or joke, or beating a challenge in a video game – acknowledge the achievement and offer praise. Likewise, if you see that your child is struggling, be supportive. Sometimes that means helping directly or helping them find resources to improve. Other times, it means expressing belief in their ability and encouraging them to try again.
Be Consistent and Fair
Discipline is a part of parenting. Ensure that you’re consistent with rules and consequences. If your child has to guess what will happen if they do something wrong, they’ll be afraid to come to you. Consistency and fairness create a secure environment and help your child trust you.
Respect Them and Their Choices
Your child is an individual, with their own wants, interests, and needs. As they grow, they’re going to make decisions about themselves, their hobbies, and their friends. You may not understand all their choices. You may not like their music. Some of their friends may not be “your choice” of friends. It is still important that you show respect for their choices. Allow your child room to discover who they are and grow as a person.
Parenting is challenging, but it is also rewarding. You are helping to guide the development of a whole person. If you take the time to demonstrate that you care about them, respect them, and listen to them, you will find the challenges easier to overcome.
Enrich Your Child’s Development