Child Youth & Family
What Does My Child Need?
Your Time and Attention
Give your child attention – smile, talk, listen. Smiles help children feel happy. When you smile you are saying that you love them, enjoy their company, are pleased with them, are taking notice, and that you are happy and fun to be with.
Talk and sing to your child from the time they are born. It helps them relax and get to know you and to learn. The more you talk, the easier your child will find it to talk, learn and make friends later on.
Listen when your child is telling you something. It’s an important way of giving your child attention and showing you care. As they grow they will ask lots of questions – listening carefully and answering their questions will encourage them to learn.
Taking notice of your child when they’re being quiet or good is a positive way to give them your attention. It makes them feel special – and it helps encourage good behaviour.
When you’re busy and tired, it’s easy to switch off. Try to put aside time for your child each day when you can talk about things. Quiet time together before bed can help make going to bed a special time. Bedtime stories provide a comforting routine all children love.
Respect for their feelings
It can be hard for your child to find the right words if they are upset or scared. You need to listen carefully. If you ignore them, they may feel they don’t matter and get angry, or feel hopeless and give up.
It’s important to take your child’s feelings seriously. Small children can be easily scared, by a clown or loud noise, for example. They need reassurance and a simple explanation. Try not to laugh, tease, get impatient or tell them they’re ‘being silly’.
Children who grow up knowing their feelings are respected are more likely to feel good about themselves and respect the rights of others. And they’re more likely to tell you if there’s a serious problem.
Children love stories about themselves – it helps them feel loved and important. You could make a scrapbook or album that’s all about your child from the time they were born. Put all sorts of things in it – a handprint, things they’ve said, a favourite birthday card. Read it with your child as a special reward or treat – or to comfort them when they’re feeling a bit unsure about the world.
Opportunities to learn
Encouraging your child to be curious and learn about the world will help them develop into a healthy, happy adult. You need to teach them that the world is an exciting place and that learning is fun. You don’t need fancy toys or equipment. It’s more important to provide your child with interesting new experiences. And they need other people too – other children to play with and relationships with people of all ages.
Children of any age love going for walks or exploring the beach or park. Why not start a shell collection – or look for special stones? Make learning fun. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can use everyday things around you, or what about joining a toy library?
If your child is under one year, you could:
* place colourful mobiles above their bed
* play gentle bouncing games
* talk, read and sing to your baby
* provide safe objects they can explore
* give them things they can push, pull or roll.
If your child is one to three years, you could:
* play naming games like ‘Where’s your tummy?’ or Where’s the cat?’
* provide simple blocks so your child can learn about shapes and building
* use puzzles to teach shapes, colours and numbers
* let them make music with your pots and pans
* collect shells, leaves or stones.
If your child is three to five years, you could:
* enrol them at play centre, kindergarten or te kohanga reo
* provide paints, paper, pencils and crayons
* set simple tasks – like helping to set the table
* encourage them to sing and dance
* teach them simple outdoor and ball games.
If your child is six to 10 years, you could:
* teach your child to ride a two wheel bike
* give them a clock and practise telling the time
* introduce them to team sports
* teach them to swim – it’s important and fun
* invite their friends to stay overnight.
If your child is 11 to 12 years, you could:
* teach them adult skills like sewing and woodwork
* play card and board games together
* let them shop and cook for the family sometimes
* encourage them to join youth or community groups