There are two dimensions to parenting - warmth and control. A warm, nurturing and loving relationship with a child is the foundation for many other parenting strategies, especially good discipline. It is so important that some researchers call it the "super-factor" of parenting. All children need to feel important, loved and connected and that without this feeling, there's little else parents can do.

Children are wired to "fall in love" with their parents and they need parents who fall in love back. This loving relationship starts from birth and needs to be nurtured every day thereafter. Unfortunately, some children grow up not having a loving relationship with a parent. For these children, having a loving relationship with another adult, such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle, teacher, coach or maybe even you can be just as important and beneficial.

Good nurturing starts with attitude and a deeply held belief that warmth is critical for success as a parent. It involves loving looks, friendly conversations in a warm and caring voice, smiles, sharing feelings, encouragement, humor and unconditional acceptance. Nurturing adults also give the gift of time and attention.

Here are a few ideas on how to develop a nurturing relationship with a child:

  • Express love and pride often.
  • Write notes of encouragement, praise and love. Slip them into the child's lunchbox, backpack or under their pillow.
  • Remember the power of appropriate touch. Give a loving hug, comforting hand squeeze or pat on the back.
  • Give your undivided attention when children are talking. Stop what you are doing, look directly at the child and listen attentively.
  • Ask questions of interest about their activities, school day or friends.
  • Attend their activities not because you have to, but because you want to.
  • Eat meals together and use the time to talk about each other's day and activities.
  • Spend time one-on-one with each other and do something they would enjoy.
  • Turn the TV off and silence all phones at least one night a month and do something fun together.
  • Tell them how much you appreciate them.
  • Draw attention to their talents and good behaviors.
  • Teach them to do new things.
  • Read to or with them.

Research shows that loving and nurturing is linked to better child behavior at all ages. Nurturing adults build strong bonds with children and provide them with a sense of security that helps them grow into confident and loving people.



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