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Building healthy parent-child relationships for a lifetime

Family at playFrom birth, the relationships that a child develops with his parents and other loved ones set the stage for his relationships throughout his life.

A safe, loving environment promotes a child’s healthy development and future healthy relationships.

In a healthy parent-child relationship both the adult and the child want to spend special quality time with each other. 

In this type of relationship, the child wants to be with the parent but also feels safe to learns and explore her world.

Why is it important to have a healthy relationship with your little one?

Apart from stimulating your child’s development in many helpful ways, a healthy relationship provides him with consistency, security and a sense of confidence that produce positive effects during school years and even during adulthood.  All children need at least one positive relationship as they are growing up in order to succeed in life.

Ideas for creating a healthy relationship with your child

The activities that you and your child enjoy together build your relationship.

Talk:  When you talk with your child, you are communicating your love for her. Show her your interest in what she likes and praise and encourage her efforts. Let her know what you want her to learn from you. Remember that talking includes listening to what she has to say! Ask her questions about what she is seeing or hearing. Let her know you appreciate her ideas and imagination.

Read:  Reading is a wonderful activity that builds closeness between a parent and child. Establish a daily routine of reading together. Hold your child on your lap to let him know he is loved, that you want to be with him, that you value the time you spend together.

Sing:  Singing is a great way to have fun with your little one. It also stimulates brain development for language and thinking. Singing also conveys your love, whether it’s a lullaby or a funny song about fingers and toes. As your child gets older, you can sing together.

Laugh together:  Enjoying each other and laughing together make your relationship with your child something both of you look forward to.

Play, play, play

If I had to choose one single strategy as a psychologist and parent that creates a special relationship with a child, I would definitely choose playing.  When you play with your little one—especially when you play what your child wants to play (even for just a few minutes)—you demonstrate how important she is to you.  Children develop many of their life skills through playing, so when you play with your child you stimulate her development, help her succeed in life, and establish a bond between you that will last a lifetime.

Dr. David Anglada-Figueroa is a clinical psychologist with a passion for families and children and a spokesperson for First 5 Sonoma County. First 5 encourages parents to Read, Talk, and Play every day with their babies. For more information, visit and