When a child and parent (or caregiver) are bonded in a close, connected relationship, the parent always offers a safe place from which the child can explore the larger world.
When a child is emotionally attached to a parent in a healthy way, he or she feels safe, secure and protected on all levels – physical, emotional and mental. The parent senses and responds to the child’s needs and wants. And this attachment grows over time, through day to day actions and routines.
When toddlers are constantly responded to in a loving and accepting manner, they learn to feel supported and protected. This is especially important when your toddler is sick, hurt or upset. Your child will then feel free to explore the physical and social world with confidence, knowing you’ll be there if something is frightening or overwhelming.
Armed with these important life tools, your toddler will be able to take full advantage of opportunities to learn new skills. You child will also be more able, and more likely, to talk to you about anything that may make them uncomfortable. This, in turn, will help you keep your toddler safe.
Seeing the two of you work through your differences can help your toddler learn that people may see things differently. It also teaches them how important it is to be flexible.
However, some parents rarely agree and this can be confusing for a toddler. It can also give a child unhealthy power in the family, allowing him or her to take sides and play one parent against the other. This is especially likely if parents argue in front of a child without coming to any resolution.
Even if you disagree, you and your partner will likely be following one of the three main parenting styles. Talking about these may help you find a different path:
Permissive Parenting Style – Parent takes a relaxed attitude and lets children do what they want. Children know they are loved but don’t learn consequences.
Authoritarian Parenting Style – Parent takes control, is strict, and expects obedience. Children learn good behaviour but often with the threat of punishment and may rebel.
Authoritative Parenting Style – Parent is gentle but firm, is consistent, explains the reasons, and models good behaviour. Children feel secure and have self respect.
Parenting styles and expectations of children differ from culture to culture. What might be considered strict or respectful in one culture may not be the same for another. The value placed on children, the rules, and the role of relatives in raising a child can vary greatly. So can attitudes to discipline. In some cultures, parents, extended family and even community members may share responsibility for disciplining young children. In other cultures, only parents are responsible.