What's the most important thing you can do to help your child succeed?
Show up. Yup! That's the short answer. Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson explain in their book The Power of Showing Up, that the best thing we can do to help our children be happy and healthy and succeed in life and relationships is be present with them.
Even better news, the research has shown that children receive the benefits (in terms of happiness, academic success, leadership skills, and relational skills), when they have just ONE adult who shows up consistently in their life.
This may sound super simple. You may even be thinking, "I just need to be around my child for them to succeed?" As with most parenting topics, it's not quite that simple. We have to do more than physically be there, and this can be challenging when we have other responsibilities and distractions (hello, cell phone).
The book breaks down the four building blocks of a child's healthy development. And more good news - it's NEVER too late. When we inevitably mess up (and don't show up), children can actually benefit from the experience, as long as we make a repair.
What are the 4 building blocks?
Safe: We aren't able to stop every fall, or hurt feeling. However our children should feel like they can come to us as a place of safety. Mostly importantly, we should not be the cause of harm. When we provide a safe place for our children, they are able to take appropriate risks, learn and grow.
Seen: This means noticing how your child is feeling in a given moment, as well as who they are as a person. This doesn't mean you have to agree with them, just that you are acknowledging how they are feeling. It also means looking beneath the behavior that the child is exhibiting, to see what is really going on for the child at a deeper level. (What needs aren't getting met? What skills does my child need help building? Are my expectations developmentally appropriate? How can I help my child meet my expectations?)
Soothed: We cannot smooth out all the rough patches our children will face. However, we can teach them how to cope when life gets tough. This can include showing them that you'll always be there for them, even when they make mistakes, AND that nothing is permanent - things can change and get better. You're here to guide them.
Seen: When the first three are present - when a child knows that an adult is there for them to provide a safe haven, see them for who they are and how they're experiencing the world, and soothe them in times of need - then they develop a secure attachment, and can succeed.
If you want to learn more about the 4 building blocks and the different types of attachment you may have formed as a child, I highly recommend The Power of Showing Up. If you would rather get the CliffNotes version of books, and prefer short tips you can implement right away sign up for my weekly newsletter here, and join my online Facebook community here! I'm here in support of you.