Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Why Positive Support is Important to a Child’s Development

Children learn what they are taught. They absorb information, both good and bad, like sponges and it lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if they were meant to hear something or not, if it was said and they were around, they have picked it up. If everything they ever hear about themselves or their families and situations is negative, that is what they will accept as the truth. They will think that that they are “bad” and that they are hopeless, lost and nothing good could ever happen to them. Once a child has heard, learned and accepted that negative type of thinking, he is at risk in many ways. This is a child who is going to give up on trying to learn and will be ready to give in to peer pressure and even more negative influences. As adults, everyone bears the responsibility to impact a child more positively, to support his development, and nudge him back to a more positive path.

Children Need and Thrive on Structure

If you ask a child about his ideal situation, he might spin a tale about living in a house where candy is always available, with no bedtimes, no curfews, and no rules. In reality, a child would be quickly overwhelmed by this kind of chaotic life and would start looking for structure, familiarity, and a set schedule. For an at-risk child, this type of structure may only come through hospitalizations, or worse, through detention centers. Working with the family to learn more positive ways to relate to one another as well as to function in society can be key to helping a child be more able to return to being just a functional, carefree, and happy kid.

Learning how positive support can be used to break negative habits is an excellent start for the entire family. Not only does it help the adults and older children learn how to deal with stresses in a more positive way it helps the at-risk child as well. This positive support is so important groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and its alternatives use it as the primary means of breaking negative habits. One example may be to learn how to correct behaviors as they are happening rather than ignoring one or two instances and then snapping and overreacting on the third. If you say something the first time, it is unlikely that you will already be frustrated to the point of saying or doing something that you may regret later. Remember, children are likely to do as you do, and not as you say.

Positive support isn’t just how you handle negative behaviors though. A child who is acting out may be trying to gain his family’s attention for a specific reason. Taking the time to actually try to talk or play with a child for a few minutes can influence more positive behavior in the future. If he liked coloring a picture with you and would like to do it again, he may be more willing to be good and not get into any trouble.

Ways to Improve Kids’ Lives

You can help a child, at-risk or not, even if you are not a parent. Volunteering to be a role model or a mentor can be an excellent way to be a positive part of your community and benefits everyone. The more positive support a child can get from every facet of his world, the more likely he will be to thrive. Once he learns that he matters and gets an idea of just how many people are supporting him and caring for him, he may agree to work on changing certain behaviors, especially the types of destructive behaviors that could lead to detention or legal problems, keep him from achieving his future dreams, and stop him from being a successful inspiration to his community.

Don’t hesitate, make a positive change in your community by volunteering today.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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