The right of children to enjoy childhood is being celebrated around the world this week. Children’s Week takes place between 22-30 October, and this year’s theme, based on Article 27 of UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child) is:
All children have the right to a standard of living that supports their wellbeing and healthy development.
What this means is that every child has the right to food, clothing, warmth, a safe place to live, sufficient sleep, being physically active, and to have their basic needs met to support their health and development.
To have a happy and healthy life, a child must grow up in a nurturing physical and policy environment. Access to quality outside spaces, playgrounds, community events, and childcare centres, for example, that promote physical development and social interaction.
Of course, all of those elements are integral, but the number one factor that influences your child’s wellbeing and long-term developmental outcomes is a quality relationship with you and other important adults in their life.
To have their physical needs met, both you and your child are hardwired to want to ensure their survival from the moment they’re born. But it goes well beyond the drive to survive.
The quality of their relationship with you influences their brain development, self-esteem, resilience, behaviour, social-emotional development, and language development.
The first five years of a person’s life are critical. Your impact doesn’t stop at early childhood. Your relationship with your child will go on to influence their academic performance, friendships, romantic relationships, and relationships with their own children in the future.
The key to a child’s wellbeing and developmental outcomes
There is no one perfect way to parent or ideal relationship between a parent and child. The way you parent is already heavily influenced on your own background and the way you were parented.
Tips to creating a positive, close relationship with your child:
Connection: Spend quality time together having fun, laughing, talking, listening, being affectionate, and making memories. Read more on the importance of filling your baby’s love cup.
Repair: Parents make mistakes, and some days we don’t get it right, so it’s important to apologise and admit that we’re human.
Delight: Show how much your little one means to you by genuinely being delighted in their presence. This promotes their self-esteem and brain development.
Co-regulation: You cannot create bad habits by comforting your children when they’re upset. Between the age of birth and three years, children literally don’t have the brain development necessary to soothe themselves, so they still require a reliable and loving adult to help them return to a calm state.
Autonomy: Allowing your child some independence, daily independent play opportunities, and not being too restrictive helps them to learn new skills, develop a sense of achievement and competence, and practice risk assessment for when we’re not around.
Empathise: It’s necessary for your child to experience all emotions and to feel that they’re safe and supported when they do. Responding to their full range of feelings, from joy to anger, in a calm, understanding, and empathetic way will help them learn that they can come to you or others with whatever is on their mind, and you’ll be there for them.
Loving boundaries: In forming a close relationship, it’s not only vital that we play, connect, comfort, and listen to our children, but to also create loving boundaries to keep them safe and secure. Being authoritative (as opposed to authoritarian) means that you are responsive and supportive, but you also set firm limits with warmth and sensitivity.
How to get involved in Children’s Week
A fun array of free events and activities are organised for children everywhere with the purpose of focussing the wider community’s attention on the skills, talents, achievements, and rights of children.
Children’s Week is run by different organisations in each state and territory, so head to the national Children’s Week website for information about your local celebrations.