Words Your Child Needs From You, Part II: “You Can Count on Me”

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baby-72224_640Have you ever had to rescue your child from an oncoming train? Probably not.

But do you know that your child needs to be sure you would?

Consider this: Your child’s world is out of her control. To her it can feel like a train wreck waiting to happen. But if Mommy is someone she can count on, she can face all that unpredictability with less fear.

Think about the last time someone you counted on was there for you. How did you feel? Wouldn’t you like to give your child that same comforted, safe feeling?

You can. Convince her that she can count on you by:

• Showing you care. Your child—no matter her age—needs to feel that you care about her. Take an active interest in what interests her. Don’t tune her out, even if her childlike activities seem trivial to you. Even babies are amazingly aware of how much you care about them. (Watch this surprising video and see what a difference you can make by giving your baby your full attention.)
• Being fully present. It’s easy to plop your child in front of the TV or a video game while you do your own thing. But she needs to know that you want to be with her. Engage with her at her age level: tickle her, play together, read a book, take a walk, tell silly knock-knock jokes. Whenever possible, eat family meals together (with the TV turned off). Sharing relaxed, face-to-face time can build strong emotional bridges.

• Supporting your child. Every time you reliably feed, shelter, and clothe your child, she feels supported. (Need help with that? Check out Choices’ Earn While you Learn program and our connections to other community resources.) You also support her when you hold her hand as she learns to walk. You support her by letting her cry on your shoulder. And when you continue supporting her even when she knows she was naughty, she’ll feel secure enough to try and do better next time.

• Understanding her feelings. Study your child daily. Learn to recognize her signals. Put yourself in her shoes: how does this moment look to her? If she can talk, listen carefully. If she’s still an infant, stop in at Choices and ask about our Dunstan Baby Language video; you’ll be amazed how well you can interpret your baby’s sounds!

• Keeping your promises. Be a woman of your word. If you said you’ll take her to the park, take her. If she expects you to pick her up from day care at 5:00, be there at 5:00 sharp. Sure, unavoidable problems will sometimes crop up. But your child will more easily forgive a mother who is reliable almost every time than one who almost never keeps her word. Build yourself a reputation of reliability.

So tell your child, “You can count on me.” Live to make it true. Yes, we know that being dependable is a tall order. That’s why we’re here to help. You can count on Choices Pregnancy Center through pregnancy and beyond.