SCOTLAND’S children’s minister says parents need to learn how to show their children love.
Launching a new consultation on a national parenting strategy, Aileen Campbell MSP said more parents should take up old-fashioned ways of interacting with children through nursery rhymes and games.
She said mothers and fathers should focus on the basics when it came to bringing up children, and pointed to a recent campaign called ‘play, talk, read.’
She said: “All parents love their children, but maybe just don’t know how to positively express that.
“Sometimes you need to go back to these things, which seem like no brainers, to make sure that is happening.
“Around the world, I think it is universally accepted that early years should be a focus to make sure we can allow our young people to flourish. But certainly we do need to take these small, simple steps.
“Play, talk read, was quite simple, it’s not rocket science.”
The campaign urged the parents of toddlers to use ‘old-fashioned’ nursery rhymes and games to interact with their children.
She said nurseries had an important role to play by having staff speak to parents and being aware of what was happening with the family.
With cases where authorities have had to intervene in family life, the strategy would try to prevent those children repeating mistakes their parents made when they were adults.
Campbell said: “With ‘looked-after children [children in care] how do we prepare them to become parents and make sure their children don’t get ‘looked after’ themselves?
“How do we make sure they are equipped as they possibly can be, to make a difference to their child’s life?”
Charity Families Outside, which deals with children and parents affected by imprisonment, is being consulted on the strategy.
Chief executive Nancy Loucks said 16,500 children in Scotland experience apparent going to prison every year.
She said: “There is a huge risk of losss of contact when someone goes into prison, about half the prisoners lose contact with their families completely.”
Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, which looks at how the modern world is affecting children, said: “We have lost sight of simple things like how much sleep children need at night.
“There is so much research showing that if families eat at least one meal a day together and sit and talk and communicate as a family it helps.”
Labour spokesman for children and young people Neil Bibby said he backed the strategy, but added: “The strategy should focus on supporting parents to make positive choices to help their children reach their full potential, not a diktattelling parents what to do. “