What do you think children need most to grow up healthy and whole?

By Abby Bordner

Many parents ask me what are the most important things that children need to grow up healthy andhappy-parent-2 whole. In developing Relationship Based Parenting, I have identified the following three factors in a child’s life have the most impact on their overall success, learning and behavior.

Positive Relationships: Attachment and bonding in a healthy relationship is the groundwork for all other work parents do with their children. This is the positive interaction between parents and children that builds a sense of connection, trust and interdependency. In infancy this is done with eye contact, being held, cooing with your baby and showing empathy for your baby’s discomforts. As our kids grow older, healthy relationships will contribute to emotional resiliency and positive behaviors.

  • Create a warm, loving, safe environment for your child.
  • Be affectionate.
  • Have reasonable expectations.
  • Use descriptive praise.
  • Spend time with your child and talk to him/her.
  • Keep your child safe and set limits.

Confidence: A confident child can show respect, be considerate, be a problem solver and become independent. This is also referred to as healthy self-esteem; essentially the messages your child says to himself, about himself are positive; I can figure this out, I am good enough, I am loveable, I have something meaningful to contribute.

  • Encourage politeness and respectful (Be polite to model this behavior).
  • Avoid being critical of others.
  • Acknowledge kindness.
  • Encourage laughter and learning.
  • Let your child make decisions.
  • Be problem solvers together; consider options and solutions.
  • Set expectations for their best efforts.

Emotional Resiliency: Emotional resiliency is the ability to manage feelings and cope with day to day stresses as well as major life events. This also includes the ability to recognize and accept feelings and express them in appropriate ways that do not harm others.

  • Accept different emotions.
  • Talk about feelings (your own, too). Be honest.
  • Listen to your child without judging. Ask questions.
  • Avoid saying things like, “there is nothing to worry about” or “that’s a silly thing to be afraid of” or “you’re just tired”.
  • Allow your child to experience frustration. Don’t rush to rescue. Working through difficult tasks and completing them helps your child feel successful.
  • Talk about ways to calm down. Manage your own emotions in a healthy way so your child has a good example of emotional resiliency.
  • Encourage optimism.

There are different qualities of healthy behavior in each aspect of this list. Relationship Based Parenting is a balance of positive leadership and guidance as well as connecting in meaningful ways so your children see you as an ally in learning and growing.

Tags: , , ,

Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)


  1. Jalila
    2 years ago

    One big lesson I learned as a parent was to recognize my own baggage before unknowingly passing it onto my children. We are all individuals which means we experience life, lessons and love differently. Every Christmas that commercial for an Easy-Bake Oven would capture me. I loved cake! Still do. My mother and my grandmother especially knew this. But every year there was that one gift that I saw no need for (a pack of undies or frilly socks) and no oven. Every year, my disappointment in those ladies grew. I felt they just didn’t care about what was important to me.

    But just because I didn’t get that Easy-Bake Oven when I was a child doesn’t mean my daughter needs or may even want one. Its a silly example. But I share it to make the point that even the smallest grudges, resentments or disappointments we carry can get passed along to our kids and yet create the same response; the child feels unheard.

    My children will have plenty of disappointments and resentments of their own. Its human nature. I try to deal with mine and allow them to deal with their own. I guess then this would come under “Allow your child to experience frustration” and “Manage your own emotions in a healthy way…”

    Thanks for letting me share, Abby!


    • Abby Bordner
      2 years ago

      So true Jalila! It’s one of the best things we can teach our children… or let them figure out. Managing emotions, failures and frustrations builds resilience. All too often we want to rescue our children from any suffering. But their experiences, with lots of cushions of love, affection and faith, will contribute to their growth and development. AND I see that beautiful baby Jalila and I definitely want to get you an Easy Bake oven 😉