With so much conflicting advice about how to look after children and increasingly alarming statistics about unhappy young people, how can we focus on simple but effective steps to treat them better?
Viva’s partner networks recently ran their own Good Treatment Campaigns where adults were asked to sign up to five simple promises. In exchange they were given a Promise Card to keep in their purse or pocket.
The networks found they could reach thousands of adults more effectively by working collectively across their cities. Each campaign was a collaborative action of many churches and organisations working together. Child ambassadors were prepared to collect signatures and hand out Promise Cards, supported by trained adults.
Based on some of the United Nations’ list of the rights of a child, we’re sharing these five ways to treat children well in the hope that they are also useful for you. Perhaps you could run a similar campaign where you live?
1 Tell them that you love them every day
This is so simple yet often neglected. Find different ways of reminding your children that they are loved by you. Our actions speak loudly but words bring affirmation and longlasting warmth.
2 Listen to what they have to say and spend time with them
How is your intentional listening? Are you quicker to direct than to listen? British children reportedly spend 45 hours per week online or watching TV and only eight hours with parents. How much 1:1 time do you spend with each child in your care?
3 Accept them as they are and recognise their qualities
Adults often wish to project their personal ambitions on their children but fail to recognise the qualities and emerging character in them. Start by accepting who they really are now just as God does with us.
4 Support their learning and train them to accept good values
Learning is life-long and holistic. A good trainer always encourages learners to find out for themselves, even if this involves making mistakes and taking time. Good values are part of this training. They will only be learnt if children are willing to accept them, so find ways to model values acceptably to them.
5 Teach them responsibility and help them to resolve conflicts
Young people will experience conflict daily. We all do. How they handle conflict confidently and wisely will make all the difference. It is all about being responsible for their own actions and decisions.
Any other tips on what works for you? Email email@example.com and tell us.
This article first appeared in Life magazine issue 4.