Children and parents communicate in all kinds of ways and going into parenthood, that was a concern of mine. I wanted to be sure that my children got the messages. That sounds simple enough but these are kids we are talking about. As the kids get older and turn into teenagers, this process becomes even more difficult.
Here are 10 important things that our kids need to hear from us. There are certainly more, but if we can nail these nine on a regular basis, we have a decent shot at getting our kids to turn out right!
“I Love You” – It is shocking how many families live day to day without ever really verbalizing this basic necessity. Saying I love you is a staple of communication that every family needs to embrace. Your kid should hear it and feel it on a regular basis (I say it to my children at least once a day!).
“You Are Special, But You Aren't THAT Special” – At some point, we decided that everyone should get a trophy, every child should be welcome everywhere and at any time (ie: bringing a toddler to a fine dining restaurant and then being annoyed when the other diners don't find his throwing food just ADORABLE). While that may be great for their self-esteem, one result is that children grow up and are ill-prepared to enter a world where it doesn't revolve around them.
“I Will Always Want to Cuddle With You” – Kids love to be cuddled even when they get older. It might be tougher to get it out of them, but they do. Letting them know you want that physical closeness with them and then following through is a gift that not many children are lucky enough to have. Spend some cuddle time for no good reason…and do it often!
“I Have Your Back” – Kids can easily begin to feel as though we parents are against them. Think about it. We spend all day saying no, asking them to do things and directing their lives. It is easy for them to lose sight of the fact that we have their back. When your child needs you, be there. That is not enough though. You need to regularly tell your kid that you have their back no matter what. It is empowering to them and they will gain trust with you for it.
“Hearing You Say ‘I Hate You' Hurts – But I Get It” – I remember the first time one of my children screamed “I hate you!” at me. At first I was angry, then I was sad. Then I remembered that I screamed that exact same thing at my mother more than a few times! Kids get mad all the time and say things they really don’t mean. When your child goes off and says they hate you or some other hateful type comment, it is important to acknowledge it. Don’t just blow it off. It comes off as accepting and callous to do that. Instead, let them know they hurt you but that you understand where they are coming from. Remind them that you once hated your mom and dad but that you eventually realized that you were just angry.
“I Still Love Watching You Sleep” – When my child is 40 and I see them nap on the couch, I am going to wager that I will love it then too (unless it is Thanksgiving and they are napping instead of helping with the dishes!). I love to see my kids sleep and I remind them of that regularly. It reminds me of when they were babies and everything was perfect (or close to perfect). That mother to child closeness is important and they feel it when I tell them these things.
“I Am Sorry” – Too many parents think that saying I am sorry makes them appear weak. In fact, the opposite is true. Children are not foolish and they see when we mess up. They are watching to see if we walk the walk and it will influence how they act in similar situations. Say “I am sorry” when you should and that includes to your kids.
“I Forgive You” – Model a healthy version of forgiveness for your kids too. When they or someone else make mistakes and you forgive them, don’t then turn around and bring it up again. Forgiveness means forgiveness and letting them know that you are letting it go is important. If you forgive, they will forgive. That is a gift in today's world that is priceless.
“You Are Not Perfect, And Neither Am I” – Letting kids know that perfection is not possible is huge. Kids go through their young lives trying to be the best they can be. They push and constantly reach for excellence. That is a good thing. What is not good is reaching for excellence and thinking that perfection is the expected result. Let the kid know they will mess up and that this is okay.
“I Am Proud of You” – Letting your kid know you are proud of them is a must. Kids are looking for that validation no matter what type of parent you are. They need to know that you love them and are proud of them no matter how successful or challenged they may be in the growing up process. Spend a few minutes each day reminding them of this fact.
What would you add to this list?