The Crucial C’s of Parenting

By Elizabeth Ernest, LMFT, LCSW

As parents, we constantly strive to understand and support our children in the best way possible. The journey can often be overwhelming, filled with both joyful and challenging moments. Amidst this journey, the “Crucial C’s” by psychologists Amy Lew and Betty Lou Bettner provide a valuable framework to guide us in fostering healthy emotional and psychological development in our children. They are:

  1. Connected- To feel that we are loved, cared for, and are accepted for who we are. Children who feel connected feel secure, reach out for help when needed, can cooperate in developmentally appropriate ways

How to foster connection:

  • Encourage social connection with others through school, activities, and extended family. 
  • Spend quality time together as a family but also individually with each child if you have more than one. This can be hard to schedule but even once a week of 15 minutes of one on one time to play a game, check in about their week, or give them space to talk about anything can help foster a secure attachment. 

  1. Capable– Belief in their own abilities. Feeling capable helps us take responsibility and believe in our own potential. 
  • How to foster capability:
    • Give age appropriate tasks within reason, such as chores to provide contribution to the family. 
    • Celebrate achievements no matter how small!
    • Encourage them to solve problems before asking for help. “I can see that you are getting frustrated with that Lego piece. Can you try one more time than I will help?! I believe in you!”
  1. Count– Feeling significant and knowing that one’s actions matter. Understanding and valuing their role in the family and community. 
  • How to foster a sense of counting:
    • Involve them in decisions, such as what kind of food to eat out one day, what snacks they want that week from the grocery store, or ideas on where to take a vacation. 
    • Acknowledge their contribution to the household. 
    • Notice small things they do that you appreciate. You can start a brag book (a journal where you write 3 things you noticed them doing that day that you appreciate). 

  1. Courage– Taking risks and challenges with confidence. This is not just being fearless but having resilience to tackle obstacles and learn from failures 
  • How to foster courage:
    • Encourage effort, not just results: Praise your child’s effort and determination rather than focusing solely on outcomes. This helps them understand that the process of trying and learning is valuable.
    • Create a Safe Environment: Ensure that your child feels safe to express their feelings and make mistakes without fear of harsh criticism or punishment.
    • Model Courage: Demonstrate bravery in your own actions. Share your own challenges and how you overcame them, showing that it’s okay to struggle and persevere.

In conclusion, understanding and implementing the “Crucial C’s” can profoundly impact your child’s development and well-being. By fostering courage, connection, capability, and a sense of counting, you provide a nurturing environment that helps your child thrive emotionally and psychologically. Remember, it’s not about being a perfect parent, but about making intentional efforts to meet these essential needs. Through these efforts, you can build a strong foundation for your child’s growth and happiness.