Children’s relationships shape the way they see the world and affect all areas of their development.
Through relationships children learn about their world.
That’s because relationships let children express themselves – a cry, a laugh, a question – and get something back – a cuddle, a smile, an answer. What children ‘get back’ gives them very important information about what the world is like and how to act in the world – how to think, understand, communicate, behave, show emotions and develop social skills.
This back-and-forth communication strengthens relationships. It also helps children learn more about the world all the time.
Your child’s most important early relationships are with you, other family members and carers.
Your relationships with others
It’s not just the relationship between you and your child that shapes his development. It’s also your relationships with others. Your child sees how you behave and communicate with other people in your life – for example, your partner, family members, friends and carers.
This gives your child a model of how to be and behave with others and how other people will behave in return. If your child sees and copies kind and respectful relationships, she’ll learn to act this way in her relationships with others.
From the moment they’re born, babies are very social. Your baby wants to spend time with you and communicate with you. And how you respond helps your baby to learn.
For example, it’s natural for your baby to want to communicate with you through babbling, facial expressions and gestures – for example, waving, nodding and shaking his head.
It’s important for you to respond with the same kind of ‘talking’ and gesturing. By responding in a warm, loving and gentle way, you’re helping your child learn about communication, behaviour and emotions. You’re making him feel safe and secure, and promoting a strong relationship between you and him.
When your child feels safe and attached to you, she’s likely to have the confidence to explore her world. That’s because she knows you’re there to support, encourage and share new experiences with her.