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What you need to know

  • There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, and there’s no one right way to parent. Above all else, a loving relationship with your tamariki is what's important. 
  • To grow to be healthy and capable adults, children need love and warmth, talking and listening, guidance and understanding, security and structure, limits and boundaries, and consistency and consequences. 
  • Children also need the freedom and confidence to go out and explore their world, and to know they can come back for comfort and protection when they’re ready to.

Things to remember when you’re a parent

Parenting is the hardest – but most rewarding – job you’ll ever have. Children don’t come with an instruction manual, and it can be hard to know how to respond to and manage difficult behaviours. Every child is different, and your approach with one won’t necessarily work with another.   

All parents wonder if they’re getting it right – and no parent gets it right all the time. It helps to remember that: 

  • theres no such thing as a perfect parent
  • there’s no one right way to parent 
  • every child is different, and has their own personality and unique qualities, and these can change over time. You need to adapt your parenting to meet their needs as they change
  • you’re not just a parent, you’re a person with your own needs - looking after those needs makes parenting easier
  • it’s okay to ask for help - all parents need it at times.  

There are lots of different approaches to parenting, but having a warm, loving relationship with your child is what's important. 

What children need

There are six things that tamariki need from you to help them grow up to be healthy and capable adults. 

Love and warmth  

Show your child how much you love them. Give them lots of praise, be positive and try not to say negative things. 

Be realistic about what they can and can’t do.  For example, you can’t expect a one-year-old to eat without making a mess, or a two-year-old to sit still for a long time. 

Talking and listening 

Talk to your child as much as you can in simple language they can understand, and listen to what they’re saying to you, without rushing them.  

Guidance and understanding 

Children are more likely to cooperate when they understand why we want them to do something. When you tell your children how their behaviour affects other people, you help them to become responsible and caring.  Be clear about what you want your child to do or not do, and give the reason why. Use clear, simple explanations to help them understand.  

It helps to try to figure out why they’re behaving the way they are, and to help them name the feelings theyre experiencing so they can identify them in the future. 

Security and structure 

To feel safe, children need to know what to expect.  Try to have routines, so things like bed time and bath time happen at the same time every day. Reduce the risk of injuries by making your home child-safe. Try to have some routine in each day so your child feels secure. 

Limits and boundaries 

Rules are good because they keep things safe and fair for the whole family. Rules should work for everyone, including parents, and it’s a good idea to focus on ‘what we do' rather than ‘what we don't do'. Make sure your rules are fair, and suit your child’s age.  Have as few rules as you can, and stick to them. Ask the child to repeat the rules back to you so you know they fully understand what’s expected. 

Consistency and consequences 

Children need to learn words and actions should match, so it’s important you don’t tell them one thing then do another.  Try to respond in the same way to your child’s behaviour each time.  If they do something wrong, make sure you respond in a respectful and reasonable way, so the consequences suit what they did.

The circle of security

This parenting approach offers relationship tools to help you understand your child’s needs. It aims to create lasting security for them, and a feeling of satisfaction for parents that they’re doing the best they can for their children. 

Children need the freedom and confidence to go out and explore their world, and to know they can come back for comfort and protection when they’re ready to. They need their parents and caregivers to be in charge in a kind way.  

Circle of Security International