Perception is powerful. It’s how we see the world and dictates how we interact with it. A child’s perception of their surroundings will determine how safe, loved and wanted they feel. It will have an effect in their self-confidence and self-love...it will shape who they are.
As parents, there are so many things to juggle during the day and there are times when we can lose sight of the big picture and/or what’s happening right under our noses. Sometimes it may be challenging to communicate with our children, not because of lack of love but rather a lack of connection. It’s like we are talking in two different languages and can’t understand each other no matter how hard we try.
Children go through difficult moments as part of growing up or by situations that affect them negatively. These experiences shape their perception of their world. Situations like being bullied, not having quality time with their parents, or feeling they are not listened to chip away at their self-confidence, their trust towards others, self-love, self-worth, and feeling loved, safe and happy. We want our children to be happy and whole individuals, so then...what can we do to help our children to overcome their challenges? These are 5 ways meant to develop, reinforce and build up all of those aspects.
Have a set day and time for mommy/daddy time. Pick a day and time, either daily or weekly, for you and your child to spend time together. Let your child know this is mommy/daddy time and they are aware this is time set aside for you and them to spend together doing something fun. Make sure this time is spent interacting with each other. Stay away from the tv and mobile phones or any other devices or games that may prevent the interaction. Also, stay away from distractions like phone calls, emails, computers, tablets, errands, housework or anything that distract you from paying full attention to your child. This time together will strengthen the bond and trust between the two of you.
Ask your child about his or her day every day. Be specific with your questions. Such as “Who’s your best friend?, What are three things you’ve learned today?, What’s the best thing that happened to you today?, What challenged you today? Did anyone push your buttons today? What was the funniest thing that happened to you today? What did you eat for lunch? What games did you play at recess?” You’ll get to know what your child’s day was like and know right away if something is amiss and they are having a hard time. Asking questions daily will become a “sharing your day” habit, they will know you have interest in how their day was and will listen to what they have to share.
Take time to listen when your child wants to talk with you. Pay complete attention when your child wants to talk with you. Even if it seems inconsequential to you or you are busy, it is important to them, so pay attention. If you don’t have time to talk immediately, take a few seconds to let them know you are busy but will get back to them as soon as you can...and then, do. Your child will feel loved knowing you are there for them and have your attention when they need it.
Talk with your child. Explain situations to your child. Talk with them, not to them. Find a way to help them understand what’s happening around them. This does not mean you’ll say things that will scare, worry, or make them uneasy or share all details. Simply share in an way easy for them to understand what’s happening when a decision is made that will impact them. Listen to what they have to say about it, if they have something to say. Encourage them to share their thoughts - even if they disagree with you. Be patient. Share your reasons. Validate their feelings and thoughts even if you disagree. This will make them feel they are part of things, valued and that you are on the same side.
The happy list. Ask your child to write a list of things, activities and/or ideas that makes them feel loved and happy. Every day do one activity with them, such as doing their homework together, reading a book before bedtime, and telling funny family stories. Keep the list in a visible place and allow them to add items as they think of them. This will help you understand what their ‘love language’ is - how they feel loved and appreciated.