Parents come to see me for a wide range of concerns about their children; everything from anxieties to autism, defiance to depression. While children are indeed each as unique as snowflakes, underneath it all their common humanity shines through. The direction I offer parents is therefore surprisingly similar, direction that is echoed in the scientific research. Whether you are wanting to improve your relationship with your child, support their self-esteem, or help them deal with a mental health problem, the most important things that you can do follow the same principles.
I can also tell you that the best predictor of a child not improving, or getting worse, is a parent who believes that he or she already knows or does these things. We can always improve on each of these principles and I can virtually guarantee that your efforts will be rewarded with a happier, less distressed child.
What I describe here overlaps considerably with what has been called conscious parenting, attuned parenting, attachment parenting, and compassionate parenting, among others. It promotes our children developing particularly secure attachments with us and consequently minimizes the risk and impact of trauma. This approach does not promote permissive or indulgent parenting.
Elsewhere I’ll explain why these principles are so crucial for raising happy, healthy children and I’ll describe special considerations for particular problems or mental health diagnoses a child might be having. But first, let’s dive in because your biggest payoff will be in understanding and practicing these four principles.