Your child(ren) mean the world to you, and undoubtedly, you only want the best for them. Part of wanting your kids to achieve their hopes and dreams is helping them get to that point. And if we’re being honest, that commitment goes beyond the simple things, like driving them to school, waking up with them in the morning, and cooking meals. If you really want to help your child succeed, this is about the everyday, little choices that grow your relationship intentionally.
It’s also about asking for help when needed, keeping the door of communication open, and constantly striving to be a better parent than you were yesterday. Here are a few tips to help foster long-term success—for your child and for your relationship—early on.
1. Seek Professional Help When Needed
As a parent, you naturally become accustomed to your child’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. You are also the person who will notice their day-to-day behaviors and changes. Although there will be speech shifts and changes as your child grows, if you notice something ‘off’ (or if you hear from trusted family and friends that something doesn’t seem right) as far as babbling, delayed speech, or unintelligible words, it may be time to seek professional guidance.
Speech pathology professionals will expertly guide you, provide a diagnosis (if applicable) and facilitate a care plan depending on the results of your child’s speech assessment. The Speech Path will guide you in finding the best solutions for your child’s unique situation and needs.
Here are a few areas they will assess and provide treatment for:
- Speech and language issues
- Fluency and rhythm problems
- Aural rehabilitation
- Cognitive concerns
- Cochlear implant rehabilitation
- Difficulty speaking
- Social communication problems
- Auditory-verbal therapy
Being proactive with your loved one’s speech and language will help them grow to be their best selves, so if you notice something. . . don’t be afraid to say something! Even if your child is young, this can be a great time to start therapy and help build more productive speech habits in the long term.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
When you invest time into your children, they feel it! Find activities both of you enjoy, or choose something that you can learn together. Your time together doesn’t always have to be big events, either. Something as simple as going for a bike ride without having your phone or work competing for your attention is meaningful and will give your child the sense that you’re present with them.
Here are a few other ideas:
- Plant a vegetable garden and tend it together. Teach them how to select seeds for your climate/soil and create a corner of your hard that feels special.
- Build a bookshelf for your child’s room together. Involve them in finding the design, purchasing the materials, and building it.
- If there is something in your home that needs to be fixed or repaired, try DIYing it together. This is a great way to teach them a new skill and it also helps them learn about measurements, spatial awareness, and working with their hands.
- Spend time volunteering for something you both feel passionate about. Animal shelters, clothing donation sites, and food pantries are good places to start.
If you have more than one child, try to schedule time with them individually. This will help each child feel like they have your undivided attention. Again, the time spent together does not have to be a major event! Instead, it is all about the quality time with one another and the opportunity to talk or learn about one another’s areas of interest and/or thoughts.
Watch this video for a child’s perspective on why parents should spend time with children.
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3. Watch For Changes In Eyesight
If you want to help your child succeed, being aware of their health: physical, mental/emotional, and social is very important. One of the most important aspects of their physical health is their eyesight and hearing! As children grow, sometimes their eyesight changes. And more often than not, it can be difficult to tell when the change occurs. Watch for signs of squinting, headaches, a shift in sports performance, or a sudden drop in grades. You may also want to ask teachers/tutors or coaches for insight on what happens during the school day or extracurricular activities.
When vision changes happen, make an appointment with your optometrist right away. Invest in swimming goggles or sports glasses if they are involved in athletics. After all, if they are worried about damaging their everyday glasses or are unable to see, they will not excel or have fun.
4. Be Available for Them
Of course, you are always there for your child, but with responsibilities pulling you in every direction, you may seem inaccessible at times. Make time every day to check in with them, even if it is only for 15 minutes. During this 15 minutes (or more!) you should do the following:
- Put your phone on silent and out of sight.
- Turn off any music, TV, or streaming device.
- Find a place where neither of you will be distracted.*
*Some topics are sensitive for children and adults, and a buffer or minor distraction is warranted. In these instances, having a one-on-one conversation while driving in the car can be helpful as they do not need to maintain eye contact and will feel that you are not hyper-focused on them. At other times, going for a walk side-by-side is an alternative to sitting across the table from one another.
Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time together is a good benchmark for checking in. If they need more time, make yourself available. It’s important that your child understands that he/she is a proirity to you, even with all of the other ‘life’ things happening. Take small steps to attend to your child’s needs and your bond will grow, as well as their success! And, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.