Who Knows Your Child Best? You Do!
How Parents Foster Positive Emotional Development
Becoming a keen observer of your child may go even further in fostering positive emotional development than self-help articles, parenting books, and parenting websites and blogs. As a writer of all of those, it may seem surprising for me make this suggestion, but you’re the one who spends the most time with your child, was there from the beginning, can track changes in moods, social encounters, learning styles, and interests in activities.
So, who can learn to be a better judge of your child’s emotional well-being than you?
All you need is a parenting survival kit that includes savy observational skills to add to your already well-developed love and devotion.
Becoming a Parenting Expert: Four Observational Parenting Skills
- Develop a Baseline of Your Child’s Typical Temperament or Disposition
You already have a baseline of your child’s temperament whether you are aware of it or not. You just need to bring it into your conscious awareness.
- To determine your child’s general disposition, ask yourself if your child is carefree, curious, sensitive, self-centered, generous, empathic, wary, moody, easy-going, shy, outgoing, nervous, slow-moving, always in a hurry, careful, or risk-taking?
- Your child is probably a combination of several of these attributes. Looking at photos and videos can help you get a sense of how they have appeared to you over time to check against your view of their basic characteristics.
- Track Changes in Mood
Now that you have a general picture of your child, it’s important to notice major changes that will indicate a problem or new opportunity has come up that you may need to be involved in. Mood changes are recognized by body language and conversation or the lack of it.
- Track Changes in Body Language: Watch Facial Expressions and Movement
- If your child is commonly a kid with a smile on, if he or she seems down cast it’s a tip off that something’s cooking.
- Notice frowning, crinkled eyes, worry lines, sudden jerky movements, twitches, and fatigue.
- To the contrary, if your child is more generally on the serious side, notice gleefulness, easy laughter, a skip in his step, increased energy. This suggests some new idea, opportunity, interest, social encounter, or other pleasure has come to her that is lifting her general spirits.
- Take note if these changes are long lasting, sustained over a few days, or last just for an hour or two.
- Become an Inquisitive Observer
Once you have convinced yourself that your child has moved from his or her usual baseline, share your observations casually with your child or teenager.
“Hey honey. You seem a bit blue lately. What’s happening?”
“Hi kiddo. You seem delighted with things lately. What’s going on?
- Of course, depending on your child’s disposition, they may or may not be forthcoming. But you’ve shown a loving interest and heightened their awareness to themselves. Give it a few days and try again.
- Your aim is to either help lift their spirits if there’s a problem and show you’re there to help—or—to offer support for some new venture your child is thinking about pursuing.
Once these 4 Parenting Observational Skills are part of your everyday experience with your child, they will increase exponentially as your child gives you feedback. In time your confidence as a parent will increase, and there you go—You have become a Parenting Expert! Congrats!