Parents who are dependable, consistent, respectful, and responsive to their children help them to develop a sense of security. These qualities are especially important for parents of preschool children, because children at this age are gaining a basic sense of trust in themselves and in the significant people in their lives. This sense of trust lays the foundation for learning, social skills, adaptability, and emotional development. Secure children also maintain and strengthen their attachment to their parents.
Dependable parents are trustworthy and available to help a child answer questions and solve problems. By being dependable, parents help children gain the trust that is needed for them to confidently explore their world. Parents who are not dependable confuse children and make them insecure or overly cautious of the wider world.
Consistent parents set rules, stick by them, and follow through with the expected consequences. They avoid acting out of anger or frustration. They keep promises. They do not make promises they cannot keep. Children learn that the world is a predictable place. And they learn that life is more pleasant when rules are followed. When parents are not consistent, children do not know what to expect. They often fear their parents because they can't predict their parents' reactions or behavior. Such children may become reserved, dependent, and distrustful of their own choices and abilities. Alternately, they may become defiant because they believe that following rules doesn't lead to a predictable outcome.
Respectful parents acknowledge children's feelings, desire for choice and control, and independence. They do not shame, laugh at, or constantly correct their child's behavior. Parents who are respectful assure children that their ideas and feelings are important and valued. This regard helps children develop positive self-esteem, which benefits them throughout their lives.
Responsive parents provide help when needed and unlimited, unconditional love. They actively listen to their children and answer questions. Responsive parents reward their children's curiosity by showing interest and sharing themselves freely. These characteristics stimulate a child's love of learning and help children to form healthy relationships.
Medical Review:John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics