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Stress can have a big effect on a child's development. When upsets occur, they need to be repaired and resolved quickly.

If a young child experiences a lot of stress, it can negatively affect their development. That’s why it’s important to find ways to help a child get over any unpleasant or upsetting things, particularly around their relationships with whānau.

Losing it

Whoever the upset has been between, or whatever it was about, the relationship rupture needs to be repaired. In simple terms, this means to ‘kiss and make up’. This lets a young child know they’re safe, secure and loved. It also helps them learn that when something goes wrong in a relationship, something can be done to make it right again.

It’s okay for parents to say sorry if they have lost it when their child has misbehaved. It’s a really good idea to talk with their tamaiti when the atmosphere has calmed down and to say why they need them to listen and do as they say.

It’s also worth talking about what they could do better next time — so it becomes a learning experience. For example, ‘I’m sorry I yelled at you when you ran out on the road. I need to keep you safe and I need you to listen when I say “Stop!” Next time we go out, stop and wait for me at the gate so I can make sure no cars are coming.’

Ask the whānau:

  • What sorts of things can upset your child?
  • Can you talk about what the child does when this happens?
  • How do you help them get back to normal?
  • What seems to work best to calm and reassure them?
  • How have you been able to put your relationship back together?

Perfection is not required

Kids don’t need a life that’s always calm. The reality is that none of us is perfect and life always has its ups and downs. Learning how to deal with the ups and downs is the valuable life lesson.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But kids deserve parents who are honest about their own shortcomings and understand how their moods and behaviours can affect their kids.

  • Is there anything you’d like to talk about, regarding how you deal with your child when things go wrong?
  • Do you think there might be other ways of helping to restore the peace that you haven’t tried?

It’s important for parents to learn some tactics for restoring the peace. Page 8 of the Whakatipu booklet 'Te Kōhuri 2' (Kaitiaki pēpi) talks about making peace. The next page (Te hinengaro mīharo) includes a reminder for parents about the negative effect of stress on a developing brain.

How does this relate to Tākai resources?

Baby wall frieze – Whakarangatiratia ahau – make me feel special

Six things children need – Te mahi pono – ngā hua me ngā hapa – consistency and consequences.

Helpful resources for whānau