The a-z of parenting

A: Attachment 

Having a secure attachment with your child provides a foundation for healthy social, emotional, and cognitive (brain) development. When your child feels safe and secure with you, they are more likely to explore and take risks, which can help them develop confidence and independence. 
Secure attachment also helps your child be more resilient and better able to cope with stress and setbacks. When they feel secure and supported by you, they’re more likely to develop a strong sense of self-worth and to feel capable of handling challenges.  

Children who have a secure attachment are less likely to develop behaviour problems, anxiety, and depression. As they grow older, they are also more likely to form positive relationships with others and to have the skills needed to navigate adult relationships. 

B: Breastfeeding 

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for you and your baby. Read our Go-to Guide to Breastfeeding

C: Communication 

Communication is important for children because it allows them to express themselves properly, understand and interpret information. This helps them to form and maintain relationships, and participate in social interactions. Good communication skills help children to express their thoughts and feelings and understand the emotions and perspectives of others. It also facilitates their brain development, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities. Children who possess good communication skills are better equipped to succeed in school, and it helps them form positive relationships with peers and adults and navigate social situations. 

D: Discipline 
Establishing boundaries with your children shows them what behaviour is acceptable. This helps them to behave better in situations outside of family life, such as school or even college and work in later life.  

Understanding consequences is also an important skill and the earlier this starts, the more mindful your child will be of the choices they make as they progress through childhood and into adulthood.  

E: Early language 

Forming your child’s cognitive (brain), social and emotional functions starts from being a baby. This is why early language skills are important and your little one is never too early to learn. Being able to communicate early in life will build your child’s confidence, meanwhile understanding a range of words means they’re more likely to keep building on their vocabulary, which leads to better academic success, and better jobs. 

F: Family Hubs 

Family Hubs are a one-stop shop to support the health and wellbeing of your children, from maternity services through to SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) support for young people up to 25. Find your local Family Hub.  

G: Growth 

Seeing your child grow and develop is one of the many joys of parenting. Check your baby is growing in a healthy way by having them weighed by a health visitor. Book onto a Well Baby clinic by contacting your local Family Hub or Children’s Centre.

H: Healthy start 

You could be entitled to a Healthy Start Card if you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4. If you are eligible, your card will be topped up every 4 weeks to spend in some shops on: 
• plain liquid cow’s milk, 
• fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables 
• fresh, dried, and tinned pulses 
• infant formula milk based on cow’s milk 
You can also access Healthy Start Vitamins for children by collecting from a Family Hub, satellite hub or children’s centre

I: Immunisations 

Millions of lives have been saved through immunisation programmes over the years, and being vaccinated greatly reduceds the incidence of dangerous and deadly diseases. While many of these diseases are not much of a problem today, immunisations are still important and they’re still necessary. 

Potentially life-threatening diseases such as measles, mumps, polio, tetanus, and diphtheria could come back if people are not vaccinated. These diseases were once widespread and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and severe disabilities but are now rare in countries where immunisations are readily available. 

Immunisations also protect people who may not be able to receive them. This includes infants who are too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women, and people with a weakened immune system due to a medical condition. 

J: Joy 

Joy is an essential aspect of a child’s emotional and social development. It promotes your child’s emotional well-being, which is critical for positive mental health. It also helps to create a sense of happiness, contentment, and overall positive emotions which help children develop positive relationships with others. Joy is also vital for creating memories with your child, as when children experience positive emotions, such as joy, they create positive memories that can stay with them for a long time. 

K: Knowledge 

Having a good range of knowledge helps your child develop their thinking skills and become better problem solvers. They can analyse information better and make better choices. Having a good breadth of knowledge also leads to better academic performance which can lead to better job prospects when they grow up. 

L: Listening 

Listen to your child, and make sure they feel heard. This builds their confidence and helps them communicate better. Also bear in mind that they are always listening. Things their hear you say, for example adult words or arguments, are being absorbed by their tiny minds. Be mindful of the words you use and how you speak to others as they are likely to copy this behaviour. 

Child development happens at different speeds. But knowing what the milestones are for your child will help you track their progress and understand if they need any extra support or attention in certain areas. Is your child hitting their milestones?

N: New experiences 
Children who experience new things gain new perspectives which enhance their understanding of the world.  

O: Outdoors  

Take every opportunity to be outdoors. There are plenty of excuses to stay instead but the outdoors has a wealth of benefits. Firstly, there are the physical benefits of being outdoors, whether they’re walking or climbing – you’re introducing exercise without it being a chore. Being outdoors also exposes them to vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones, and muscles, while reducing the risk of chronic illness and regulating the immune system. 

P: Patience 

Try not to lose your cool with your children – even when they’re being a challenge. This is a way of modelling the behaviour you want to see and will show your child how to regulate their own emotions when they’re feeling frustrated. 

Q: Quality time 
Life can get in the way of spending quality time together as a family. It’s important to carve out some time and make memories. This is a way of creating a secure attachment and doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. You can create moments of quality in the everyday – such as eating your meals together and discussing your day. Or enjoying story time before bed.

R: Routine 
Having structure and predictability helps children to feel secure and stable, which encourages good behaviour. Having clear routine sets out the expectations and will teach your child to respect the need for completing tasks in order and on time. Routines breed good habits and children who have a structure to their days are more likely to engage in healthy behaviour and be more independent in taking care of themselves. 

S: Safety 
It is your number one job as a parent to keep your child safe. Children are prone to being clumsy and vulnerable to accidents as they learn to navigate different scenarios in the world. It’s your job to predict what dangers your child may be exposed to in each situation and do your best to stop your child coming to harm.   

T: Teachable moments 
Understanding risks or seeing opportunities can sometimes be tricky for children. Seek out opportunities to create teachable moments. If your child or someone hurts themselves doing something silly or dangerous, use this instance as an opportunity to learn not to do that same thing. Likewise, if you see your child succeeding at something, point it out so they can remember it as a teachable moment. 

U: Understanding 

Your child is going to make mistakes. They are going to make choices that you don’t agree with. But being understanding is a way of building trust which means they will come to you if they’re in trouble. It also stops conversations from becoming aggressive and means you can speak calmly and openly, to find a solution. Having understanding is also a great way to model the behaviour you want to see in them. Show them that you have empathy and compassion,  

V: Values 

Knowing right from wrong is a fundamental value. It teaches your child to make good choices. But instilling good values is something that will carry youngsters into later life. Values like kindness, consideration for others and having good manners will help your child build relationships socially, whereas respect, accountability and responsibility all contribute to building successful careers. 

W: Wonder  
Instilling a sense of wonder in your child is important, because it helps them to appreciate and engage with the world around them. Children are naturally curious and helping them to explore that curiosity can lead to a lifelong love of learning. By encouraging creativity, imagination, and a sense of awe, parents can inspire their child to look at the world with fresh eyes and an open mind. This, in turn, can help them to approach challenges with a greater sense of resilience and optimism, and ultimately lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. 
Y: Yes  

Seek out opportunities to say “yes” as there are so many times you will have to tell your little ones “no” – to keep them safe or simply to make life work. If you can seek out an opportunity to say yes, do. If they ask to play outside in the rain, rather than say, “no, it’s raining”, can you say, “yes – let’s put on our wellies and coat”.  
Z: Zest 

Parents can instil a zest for life in their child by encouraging them to explore new things, fostering a positive mindset, providing opportunities for physical activity, promoting a love of learning, emphasizing gratitude, cultivating social connections, and leading by example. By doing so, children can develop a sense of curiosity, resilience, and optimism that can help them approach new challenges with enthusiasm and joy, and ultimately lead to a more fulfilling and happy life. 

If you think you need some extra help on parenting, why not access our parenting support.