Erickson: What are the most important things to provide for children?

The following opinions expressed by Scott M. Erickson are his own and do not officially represent the views of the American Counseling Association or the Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board. The expression of these opinions does not constitute a real or implied counselor-client relationship.

Our little children crave three things: consistency, consistency, and consistency.

Our little children need a consistent environment. Children are constantly on the move, exploring their physical environment. They are learning to trust that the same space has the same feel from day to day. The predictability of their environment fosters healthy attachment and the establishment of a secure base. This is not to say that new experiences and environments are off-limits. However, the bulk of their time should be spent in surroundings that are familiar to them.

Our little children need a consistent schedule. There are certainly several ways to go overboard here so let’s please do our best to let go of being overly rigid. However, the more consistent we can intentionally maintain our child’s schedule day to day, particularly in the tasks of feeding and sleeping, the more secure they will be.

Most important of all, our little children need consistent parenting from all primary caregivers. As with all important parenting principles, this one does not operate in a vacuum. Consistent abuse from caregivers is obviously unhealthy. To be sure, there will always be slight differences in interaction and style and this is to be expected. What I am talking about is the experience of dramatic differences in parenting and a spirit of disunity between the adults caring for our children. The thought of, “Well, at least when I am watching these kids they are getting the right kind of parenting,” is an example of this kind of caregiver disunity. Inconsistencies in expectations and corrective interactions from one parent to another or from parents to day care providers are extremely damaging to our children. Such a dynamic creates distress in our little ones and makes it difficult to strengthen our collective relationships with them as a safe harbor. It is extremely important that all primary caregivers agree on and implement the same basic expectations and discipline strategies.

Scott M. Erickson is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Kemmerer who has provided counseling services in southwest Wyoming for the last eleven years. Erickson’s mission is to “be a dynamic catalyst helping you to empower your best self.” He can be reached at his website or his Facebook page: Erickson Counseling & Coaching LLC.


More In Opinions