Build supportive relationships

Quality relationships are important for resilience. You can help develop your child’s resilience by helping them build and strengthen their relationships with other children, and with significant adults in their lives including your parent-child relationship.

It is important to remember to:


Spend quality time with your child

Connect with your child

Connect with your child by doing things together that you both enjoy – for example, taking walks or watching your favourite movies together. Use this quality time to talk with your child and stay connected with the things that are important to them and any concerns they have.

Show warmth and affection


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)


Warmth and affection is important for your child’s development. Touch is particularly important in the first few years of life for creating a strong attachment between adult and child. Learn how your child likes to be shown affection – for example, a hug or a kiss – and show your child regular affection. It will help to establish a parent-child relationship of trust.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Use your quality time together to show affection and acceptance while respecting their individual comfort level (these may vary in public places such as at school). Talk with your child about who they are, what they value, what they like and don’t like – be accepting of differences that exist between you and your child.

Talk with your child


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)


Talk with your child about things that interest them. Ask them open questions such as, “Tell me about all the things you like about going to the park”. “Tell me about the things that you don’t like about going to park.” By asking open questions, you’ll get a unique insight into your child’s world and what they value. 

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Talk often with your child about things that are happening in their life – interests, sports, friends, teachers, school etc. Use open questions to talk with them about these things, such as “tell me all about school”. By asking open questions, you’ll get a unique insight into your child’s world and what they value. If you ask closed questions like, “Did you enjoy school today?”, you’ll most likely get short responses and have little understanding about your child’s day.

Do activities that extend your child's development


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Do activities with your child that extend their development. For example, building blocks are good for developing children’s fine motor skills. As this is a developing skill, your child may find it difficult to master. Encourage your child in a positive and supportive way. You could say, “I can see this is difficult and it’s so good that you are trying!” 


Primary school aged kids (612 year olds)


Listen carefully if your child expresses any worries and try to understand their point of view. Avoid making assumptions on your child’s behalf. Listen to your child’s description of the challenge they’re experiencing and find out what they value. For example, ask questions like, “Tell me about what’s difficult for you”.

Teach your child about emotions 


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Young children are learning about their emotions. You can help your child to learn about how they feel, by labelling emotions in themselves. For example, if they experience frustration when building blocks.

Primary school aged kids (6-12 year olds)


When your child is having a hard time, ask them how you can best support them. This will give them a sense of control and choice in handling the situation.

child with teacher in class

Support your child to build relationships with other adults

Help your child connect with family history

 

Help your child connect to the people and history in your family including aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, as well as other important adults who may not be related but are also important. Tell stories from the past about family members, look through old photographs and share memories. Encourage and organise for your child to spend time with family and friends. Older children could also keep in contact by phone, email, Messenger or Skype. You play a vital role in helping your child to develop good relationships with extended family members and friends. 

Involve your child in local community activities


Pre-school aged kids (15 year olds)

Encourage your child’s sense of belonging by involving them in the local community from an early age. There are many great, low cost things to do in local communities – such as groups at local libraries and community playgroups, which allow them (and you) to connect with others in the local community. 

Primary school aged kids (612 year olds)

Encourage your child to connect with different types of people in your community – by attending local community events and working bees at your child’s school. This will expose your child to different types of people, and give them a greater sense of purpose and belonging outside of your immediate family.


Help your child develop social skills and peer networks

Friendships are important to your child’s development. Help your child to practise and improve their social skills so that they can form friendships with their peers. Kids learn how to manage relationships by observing the ways that other people around them relate to each other. You are their role model.

Encourage your child to socialise


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

There are many social skills that your child will develop early in life that will support them to form friendships as they grow up. These skills include learning to share, taking turns, following rules, compromising and self-control. You can role model these skills at home. Give your child a head start by taking turns when playing board games or compromising when family members have different preferences.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Your child’s opportunities to make friends expand once they go to school, as does their autonomy in making friends. Encourage your child to participate in activities that allow them to meet new people, for example, through extra-curricular activities such as sport, arts and music. Pay attention to the friends your child is making.

Encourage your child to play with friends


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Young children (under the age of four) tend to play alongside each other rather than ‘playing with’ other children, though this usually changes around the time they reach pre-school. Take your child to places where there will be other children to play with. For younger children, you should monitor their play so that you can intervene if things start to go wrong, such as if your child wants the same toy as another child. Take the time to reinforce sharing and taking turns when these situations arise.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Encourage your child to invite other children over to play. If your child is new to having friends over, or has had difficulty in the past, talk with them about: suitable activities for when their friend visits; how your child will know when it’s time to change games; and how your child will know if their friend is having a good time.

Help your child to support others


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Help your child to develop empathy towards other children as outlined in the next section.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Help your child to think about ways they can support their friends when they’re going through a challenging time. Come up with a list of ideas and put all the ideas together in a folder at home and refer to them regularly. Use the opportunity to talk with your child about how they would like to be supported in a similar situation. 


Help your child to develop empathy

Empathy is important to building good relationships because it involves being sensitive and understanding the emotions of others and responding in appropriate ways. 

Role model positive relationships 

 

Provide your child with opportunities to practice being empathetic. Your child will learn how to be empathetic by observing you and other adults in their lives. Try to role model positive relationships and interact with others in a kind and caring way.

Read age appropriate books


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Read books with your young child about feelings.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)


Read age appropriate books with your child about a character who is having a difficult time. Ask your child to reflect on the emotional experience of the character and imagine how they would feel in the same circumstance. Ask your child how they would like others to respond to them if that happened.

Empathise with your child


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Empathise with your child. For example in a thunder storm you could say "the thunder is really loud. Are you scared of the thunder? You can stay close to me until the thunder passes.”

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Talk with your child about other children they know who may be having a tough time. Ask your child how they would feel in that situation, and what they can do to support the child.

Talk with your child about others' feelings 


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Talk with your child about others’ feelings. For example, “Raimy is feeling sad because you took his toy truck. Please give Raimy back his truck. You choose another one to play with.”

You can also use pretend play to talk about feelings as you play with your child.

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Talk with your child about ways to show empathy such as: listening; opening-up and sharing with others; using physical affection (if appropriate); noticing the feelings, expressions and actions of others; not making judgements; and offering help to others.

Encourage empathy and role model being curious


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)


Show your child how they can show empathy. For example, “Let’s get Chitra some ice for her sore leg.”

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Role model being curious. Invite your child to be curious about others. Notice the feelings, expressions and actions of others. 

Validate your child's difficult emotions


Pre-school aged kids (1–5 year olds)

Validate your child’s difficult emotions. Sometimes when children are sad, angry or disappointed, we try to fix the problem straight away and protect our child from any pain. However, these feelings are part of everyday life and our children need to learn how to cope with them. Labelling and validating difficult emotions helps children learn to handle them. For example, “I can see you’re angry that I’ve taken away your iPad. I understand that and I know you like using your iPad. It’s OK if you’re angry. When you’re finished feeling upset, would you like to come outside and help me dig in the garden or shall we make some muffins in the kitchen?”

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Validate your child’s difficult emotions. Sometimes when children are sad, angry, or disappointed, we try to fix the problem straight away and protect our child from any pain. However, these feelings are part of everyday life and our children need to learn how to cope with them. For example, “I can see that you are sad because you were not invited to Joseph’s party. It’s normal to feel that way but it’s important to remember that you have many friends who enjoy spending time with you.” 

Interact with a diverse range of people

 

Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Look for opportunities to volunteer with your child. This will help your child to understand the needs of others and allow them to interact with a diverse range of people.

Practice experiential empathy


Primary school aged kids (6–12 year olds)

Help your child to practice ‘experiential’ empathy by taking on the tasks of someone else (perhaps yourself) for a day. 
mum and daughter gardening

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