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Children's Mental Health Week: How to be the best influence you can be on your children

Cover Media logo Cover Media 05/02/2021
a person sitting at a table using a laptop computer © Provided by Cover Media

Research has shown how strong parental bonds are one of the most pivotal contributing factors on a child's mental wellbeing, which means you can have the strongest effect on your child.

Leon Hady, who runs free parenting support guides on his home school education site Guide Education, insists that "nothing has more effect on your young child than you" so you should aim to become the best influence you can be on your children.

How you ask? Leon has given us the following tips.

- How's your voice holding up? They have heard that voice all their life, but how else are you communicating - how much do you smile? How much do you hold a hand, how much do you kneel to their height side by side in conversation, giving reassurance in other ways than talking?

- When talking what words do you have? Is your 'feeling' range limited? Do you catch yourself saying 'so annoying' or such phrases again and again?

- How much are you active alongside your child? Is going off to play something they always have to do alone? Or are you there with them, showing passion for something so they join in alongside you? Or are you inhabiting their world of make-believe on their terms and helping them bring it to life and form a connection?

- Can you spot phrases from work or adult relationships creeping into how you speak to them? 'Can you just shut up a minute?' 'I'll be there in 10' 'Well you shouldn't have' 'I told you twice already!' - ask yourself honestly if the habitual responses you are so used to saying to adults are inadvertently being used on your children. As their one true guide on this world, you'd be better off saying 'Can daddy have two minutes of quiet to think?', for example.

- What habits are you showing them? What do you want them to pick up on? Are you frustrated and beat down 90 per cent of your day then dig out a smile for 10 minutes of limp play or are you able to energise for the moments they are with you?

Be a beacon. Don't try for anything close to perfect or such nonsense - take the above and pepper your day with them - you'll find their positive responses will fuel you.

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