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Working with the very young, we are continuously aware of the nurturing impact we have on our children’s lives through every environment we facilitate, every experience we offer and every interaction we share. But these effects are just as profound in the home where understanding is perhaps more limited.  But what does it mean to be a nurturing parent (regardless of whatever the actual relationship may be) and how do we support our families when questionable advice and guidance may be all too readily available? 

Parenting is a remarkable journey that comes with joys, challenges and immense responsibility, though its nature is dependent on a million decisions and actions taken in the moment, every day. So how can you begin supporting parents with this when you are not around, when they may be struggling with some difficult conditions or when their deeply influential experiences of childhood are not what we would like to offer to this generation?  

Regardless of who you are, where you live or the childhood influencing you, we know that what really matters to a child – and the adult they become – are the experiences you are offering and how you engage. You don't need the latest toy, but you do need to play.  You don't need to plan lavish outings, but you do need to share experiences. And you don't need any money to share every book... just a library card!

But for some, these simple foundations of a nurturing childhood can be monumental. In my experience, change is always most impactful when the person making it understands why it is necessary. Not because someone else has told them to, but because they know what these changes mean and the difference they are having on their child’s growth and development.

Nurturing parenting is then an approach that recognises the crucial role of positive and supportive parenting in a child’s development. It focuses on offering knowledge and understanding along with practical strategies that are accessible to all families. It looks to nurture development during these pivotal years while helping to cultivate a strong parent-child bond. 

We know that children thrive when they are provided with care, warmth, understanding and guidance. As parents, carers and educators, it is then so important that we work together, sharing this understanding, both of best practice and each child's individual needs. Only then can we look to offer a nurturing childhood that fosters their physical, emotional and social well-being.  But at times, that can seem easier said than done. You can of course turn to the Nurturing Childhoods Academy for lots of courses, guidance and advice, but let us begin with seven top tips for a nurturing childhood that you can share with your families. 

Seven top tips for a nurturing childhood 

Tip 1: Nurture secure attachments

At the root of any nurtured childhood are the secure bonds surrounding a child and all their primary caregivers. Help your families to see the importance of these bonds and how they lay the foundations for healthy emotional development, self-esteem and the ability to form positive relationships later in life. 

Tip 2: Nurture emotional well-being

When children receive consistent love and support, they develop a strong sense of self-worth, emotional resilience and the ability to regulate their emotions effectively. Every time they are responded to with kindness and understanding their well-being flourishes, even when we may be feeling exhausted. 

Tip 3: Show unconditional love

Express your love for your children regularly. Offer a warm smile and affectionate physical touch, praise their efforts and show appreciation for their unique qualities. Let them know that your love is not based on achievements but on their inherent worth as individuals. 

Tip 4: Nurture communication and trust

Open and respectful communication is central to nurturing parenting. When children feel heard, understood and valued, they develop trust and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns and experiences with their parents. So start now and you will have a far easier time when you reach the teenage years! 

Tip 5: Practice active listening

Take the time to truly listen to your child and show genuine interest without judgment or interruption and this begins when all they can do is babble. Show empathy with their emotions, validate their feelings and respond in a supportive manner. This fosters trust, builds their self-esteem and strengthens your parent-child bond. 

Tip 6: Create a Nurturing Environment

Provide a safe and stimulating physical environment that encourages your child to explore, create and engage. Ensure that your home and the places your child spends time are filled with love, warmth and positive energy. And spend quality time together, engaging in activities that they enjoy as you create lasting memories and strengthen your connection. 

Tip 7: Foster independence

Encourage your child to develop independence by allowing them to make age-appropriate decisions, take on responsibilities and solve problems on their own. Even if this simply means reaching for the toy that is slightly out of their grasp. If we can help our little ones face their little challenges, our big ones will be more than ready to navigate the bigger challenges that will come their way. 

Nurturing parenting is an invaluable approach that lays the foundation for a child’s healthy development. By providing love, support, guidance and a nurturing environment, you can foster emotional well-being, positive self-esteem and strong relationships. But it is a continuous journey that requires patience, understanding and a commitment to learning and growing together. And even as adults that is not always easy. If we are to create a nurturing environment for our children, we also need to create one for ourselves. So ask yourself, where are your secure attachments? Who is looking after your emotional well-being? Do you feel listened to within an environment that allows you to flourish? Don’t forget, there is a reason they tell you to get your life jacket on before helping others with theirs! 

So whether you are a parent, practitioner or family worker, join me at the Nurturing Childhoods Academy where you can listen to talks and access lots more tips and suggestions and there are also materials for you to print out and keep handy, giving you all the key bits of learning at your fingertips. 

About the author:

Dr. Kathryn Peckham, the visionary behind Nurturing Childhoods, is a dedicated champion for ensuring that children have access to enriching and purposeful experiences during their crucial formative years. With a fervent commitment to this cause, Kathryn collaborates with various educational settings to assess the profound effects of impactful childhood experiences, which lay the essential groundwork for lifelong learning.

About the author:

Dr. Kathryn Peckham, the visionary behind Nurturing Childhoods, is a dedicated champion for ensuring that children have access to enriching and purposeful experiences during their crucial formative years. With a fervent commitment to this cause, Kathryn collaborates with various educational settings to assess the profound effects of impactful childhood experiences, which lay the essential groundwork for lifelong learning.

About the author:

Dr. Kathryn Peckham, the visionary behind Nurturing Childhoods, is a dedicated champion for ensuring that children have access to enriching and purposeful experiences during their crucial formative years. With a fervent commitment to this cause, Kathryn collaborates with various educational settings to assess the profound effects of impactful childhood experiences, which lay the essential groundwork for lifelong learning.

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