As caregivers and parents, it is vital that we develop a healthy way to guide, nurture and support the children we love in their daily lives. Every human being has a biological need for connection with others.

“Often, early attachment and connection to caregivers and parents lays a foundation for children in how to build appropriate relationships in their own lives,” says Niki Grajewski, Clinical Manager for Family Services at Centerstone. “Children learn from the adults around them how to handle stress, solve problems and communicate with others.”

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Providing a healthy, stable source for this vital learning and development is incredibly important for overall wellness and can also contribute to academic success.

Supporting your children through involvement

Getting involved in the lives of children is the best way to make them feel supported. Showing an interest in the things they are doing in their lives goes a long way.

One of the simplest ways caregivers can stay involved in their children’s lives is developing a routine around asking the child about their day. This helps the child reflect on their own experiences, learn how to communicate these experiences effectively and find more value in them as they notice someone take interest. Younger children might like to show caregivers the work they did at school that day or display it at home. There are simple questions you can ask to help them reflect on their school days:

“What was your favorite part of the day?”

“How was math? I know you were worried about that.”

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“How was that test today?

When possible, opening the lines of communication with children, their teachers and themselves can also be helpful. Attend conferences, reach out when your child is struggling, and volunteer for school events. Taking these opportunities and more helps create a positive connection between home and school. Children will respond positively to their caregivers taking an interest in their academic activities and find even more value in them.

Staying involved while respecting boundaries

While parents and caregivers should be involved in their children’s lives, setting boundaries is important for their development as independent humans. “The level of caregiver involvement in a child’s educational experience will differ based on the needs of each individual child,” says Grajewski.

One realm in which caregivers can best support children is problem-solving. It is vitally important that children learn how to solve problems on their own. One way you can do this is by stepping away from resolving conflicts for your children, choosing instead to support them as they approach the issues themselves. You can support their self-driven conflict resolution helping them practice how to talk to their teacher about a problem or concern they are having. You can also encourage them to ask for help, voice concern and advocate for themselves. Start by asking questions such as, “Do you think you can address this on your own?”

Another realm in which caregivers can get involved is academic success. In general, all parents and caregivers want their children to do well academically. “Encouraging children to ‘try their best’ is important, but it is equally important for children to know their caregivers support and love them unconditionally,” says Grajewski. “Sometimes when we want to see our children succeed, we unknowingly give them more stress than support.” When children struggle academically, a message of ‘We will get through this together’ could be more positive than punishment for bad grades. Let them take the lead in asking for help and assure them that you will have their back no matter what.

Centerstone supports children through individual school-based and family counseling. If you know a child who needs extra support, give us a call at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123).

About Centerstone

Centerstone is a not-for-profit health system providing mental health and substance use disorder treatments. Services are available nationally through the operation of outpatient clinics, residential programs, the use of telehealth and an inpatient hospital. Centerstone also features specialized programs for the military community, therapeutic foster care, children’s services and employee assistance programs. Centerstone’s Research Institute provides guidance through research and technology, leveraging the best practices for use in all our communities. Centerstone’s Foundation secures philanthropic resources to support the work and mission of delivering care that changes people’s lives.

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