I’ve written previously about what we can do as parents to promote self-reliance in our children. Today I’d like to discuss how parents can help their children develop wellness and social skills.

Safety, trust, affection, and nurturing are essential ingredients in the process of developing wellness. Wellness can be defined as a state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.

Safety is a basic need for all human beings, but ensuring it is critical to your children’s sense of wellness. It is your job as a parent to take necessary steps to ensure your child’s safety, from strapping him into a car seat to childproofing your home. When children feel safe and secure, they can focus their energies on other things, like learning and socializing.

Establishing trust early on involves showing your child that you are always going to be there when she needs you. If your child cries, you must go to her. If she is hungry, you must feed her. Filling children’s emotional and physical needs is how we establish their trust, which positively impacts their wellness.

Children should be given loads of affection and nurturing from their parents. Cuddles and kisses solidify the bonds between parent and child that will last a lifetime. Being affectionate shows your children that you love and care about them, which naturally promotes their well-being.

Your child’s social skills will come into play at school, on the playground, in sports or other extracurricular activities, and in his professional and love lives well beyond childhood. How you help him develop these skills in childhood will shape who he becomes and what he can accomplish later in life.

It is important that parents notice and reinforce a child when she is showing good, desirable behavior. Call her out for doing what is right instead of only commenting when she is doing something wrong.

Distracting the child, ignoring undesirable behavior, and setting clear-cut consequences for broken rules are also essential ingredients for an effective process of socialization. Make consequences logical once it is appropriate; typically this is when the child is around three years old and up. An example of a logical consequence would be having the child clean up the mess he made rather then taking away a toy to punish him for making a mess.

What are your thoughts on the best ways to promote wellness and good social skills in children?

-Dr. Erica Miller