From babies to toddlers to teens, educational psychologist Diane Tillman and I did not miss anything when it came to parenting, and effective ways of disciplining and maintaining a positive relationship between parents and their children.

We began by discussing when a baby has just been born and how a parent suffering post-natal depression can affect the baby because babies require a healthy and happy parent. Diane stated that if any parent has suffered post-natal depression, it is never too late to love your child.

TOP TIP: make eye-to-eye contact with your child so that it affects their brain positively.

Do you remember the day your parent(s) dropped you off to nursery? I remember my experience. There was a lot of shouting, screaming and crying involved when my mother left me with my nursery teacher! Toddlers can be really attached to their parents, so what should you do in this scenario?

Diane explained that the worst thought for a two-year-old is that they are going to lose their parent’s love. The best thing you can do in that situation, Diane explained, is explain what is going to happen before it has happened. You can even act out the scenario of when the child meets their nursery school teacher for the first time. This prepares them for when it actually happens.

TOP TIP: prepare your children for a scenario before it happens by talking about it and acting it out.

We then discussed the ‘terrible twos’ which is a term we have all heard of and many of you may have experienced. Diane stated that children at two-years-old are delightful! This is an age where they are separating slightly and want their own voice. They want some independence so begin to test how far they can go. When a parent steps in and challenges this, you end up with a crying child.

What you should do is let them think for themselves and give them positive alternatives. If they want to go to the supermarket with you and choose some cereals, give them the options to choose from and then let them decide. That way they feel their opinion is being valued and respected.

As Diane was talking, I realised that much of what she was saying involved talking and listening to children and giving them a choice. Talking through situations and issues calmly creates mutual respect which in turn establishes a positive relationship.

TOP TIP: talk to and listen to your children.

One thing many parents struggle with is the simple task of going shopping and taking the children. Many parents avoid it at all costs because it is such a bad experience. What do you do when you child is picking up every toy and you are constantly having to put every toy back?

Diane recommends eating – both parent and child should eat well and ensure your child is fairly rested too before you head out. You can also take an activity for them to do while you are shopping such as reading a book. Once again, you can give them a choice of one toy or one sweet.

TOP TIP: give your children choices so they feel their opinion is valued.

As we worked our way through the years, Diane explained that giving older children responsibilities within the home such as cooking and cleaning will make them feel responsible and make them feel they are capable.

She told us a story of a young boy who would visit a young girl every day to feed her animals. One day he told the girl ‘I won’t be feeding your animals anymore’. She asked ‘why?’ He replied: ‘because my dad found out I was feeding them to get paid so I could save up for an Ipad. So he bought me one’.

A year later the young boy suffered depression. So it is important to enable your children to feel capable of accomplishing something on their own. And giving them responsibilities around the house will make them feel they are contributing to the safe and protective environment around them.

TOP TIP: give your older children responsibilities around the house.

When it comes to disciplining a child, it is important to get the balance right between nurturing them and disciplining them. Nurturing is the core feeling of closeness and protection where you listen to them and have ‘us’ time. At the same time, you need to make sure your child listens to you so you need to give them a logical and relatable punishment if they ignore you.

An example Diane gave was of a little girl who was told by her mother to clean away her toys before her father returned home. The little girl eventually stopped cleaning her room and knew how to work around her mother. So her mother told her again to clean her room and added a consequence – the toys that did not get cleaned away would get put in a box until she decided she wanted to clean up properly.

TOP TIP: discipline by adding a logical punishment that relates directly to the situation.

The best protection for a child is a good and healthy relationship with a parent. This includes being able to openly talk about issues such as sexual relationships. Diane explained that this will not only create a healthier relationship between parents but also educate children about sexual abuse.

Diane told the story of a 10-year-old girl in India who did not know she had been sexually abused because she had had no education on the topic. So, it is important for parents to speak about this to their child and training them to have an assertive quality.

You can teach your child to be confident and assertive in other areas of life so it comes naturally when they are saying ‘no’ to anything of a sexual nature that makes them feel uncomfortable.

TOP TIP: discuss sexual relationships with your child so they are educated about sexual abuse.

And last of all, we discussed bullying.  Diane explained that children can develop a healthy relationship with a bully by confidently asserting themselves, talking to people in their own social circle, and train friends to support the one being bullied.

TOP TIP: teach your children how to be assertive and confident.