Jun 12, 2024

KOERNER: Everyday gestures

Posted Jun 12, 2024 9:15 AM

Cottonwood Extension District

You want the best for your child and are trying to keep them safe and healthy while they grow. Still, it’s hard being a parent and it’s even harder when your family has experienced trauma. There are simple ways to connect with your child and help them to feel loved.

You might be a child’s parent or guardian, their regular caregiver, or someone who frequently sees and cares for them. No matter who you are to the child, you can be someone they trust and rely on. These are 8 everyday gestures that you can do with children to build relationships and trust. Children need to have strong relationships and attachment when they are young to set them up for success as an adult.

8 Every Day Gestures

1. Play with your child and enter their world-Find activities that you can do together, like reading stories, playing video games, playing pretend, or practicing sports.

2. Listen to your child-Look them in the eye to help them feel seen, heard, and valued. Show them you are listening by bending down to their level, make eye contact and put down your phone.

3. Be your child’s cheerleader. Tell your child what you love about them. Inspire your child to discover activities that interest them, like sports, art, music, or theater.

4. Comfort your child when they feel scared or overwhelmed, and practice techniques such as taking deep breaths and counting to ten. Help you child find other people and places that help them feel safe and supported.

5. Talk to your child about their feelings. Help them to be able to label their emotions by using a feelings chart and model healthy ways to express feelings. Ask your child about events from their day and how they made them feel.

6. Create calm and predictable environments. Help your child know what to expect whenever possible by creating habits and routines. Ask yourself, what rituals would work for my family each day to make it more predictable? Children feel safe and have less anxiety when their worlds are predictable and they have an idea of what to expect will happen each day.

7. Set clear rules and expectations about your child’s behavior and use positive reinforcement whenever possible. Clear rules might include “no name-calling” and how often they can watch TV. Reward your child’s efforts to follow family rules.

8. Create a network of support for you and your child, and be a support for other parents. At some point, we all need to ask for help. Whether you’re helping someone else or needing it yourself, it’s good to know what health, counseling, and recreation resources are part of your community.

Source: Futures without Violence

Monique Koerner is the Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at: 785-628-9430 or [email protected].