This is basically part 2 of my post “Growth in Parenting”.
Children need to know that your love is unwavering, that your arms are always there to wrap around them no matter how far or near you are. When your child feels that love waver, perceived or otherwise, it sends waves of frustration, ripples of fear, through their uncertain worlds. Telling your child “I love you”, wrapping your arms around them as often as possible, telling them it is okay to need/want physical comfort, or to not want it. Letting them know that you are there when they need you.
Nurturing their minds, bodies and souls. Accepting them for who they are, even if that person is a little quirky in your opinion. Children need opportunities to grow, they need the opportunities to learn, to think, to make decisions.
Respect that they have thoughts and feelings, even if those thoughts or feelings don’t make sense to you.
Be patient, we are all learning here, sometimes you have to take a mental step back in order to decide the right action to take and that is okay. Govern your thoughts and reactions with kindness, nobody wants to be told they are less or unworthy, think and filter before you speak, as you are the adult. Being kind to your child and to those around you teaches them to do this as well. Not looking down on those less fortunate, but helping to lift those who need it.
Some days you just need strength, those days where nothing is going right, nobody is co-operating and the world seems to be against you. Those are the days you have to remember that the only thing your are in total control of is yourself! Your temper, your body, your words, your stress level. By teaching yourself to take a deep breath before you snap, you are teaching your children to do the same. By remaining calm when everything around you is falling apart, you are teaching your child to do the same. Teaching yourself to follow a chain of events backwards to deal with root causes, communicate you understand, apologize if you created the decent into chaos. This is strength, to be able to admit when you are wrong, to be able to realize when you need to apologize and to actually step forward and humbly offer the apology and to accept that it is not a requirement that the other person accept your apology immediately. Your child will follow your example.
We need to teach our children that “weakness” is not a bad word. We need to teach our children that we all have weaknesses and that in recognizing our own we are opening doors to potential growth. Not everyone has strength of mind, or of body, or of soul. Not everyone is connected to the world or themselves. Some people cry, some know how to show anger without hurting others, others are happy all of the time. If you have any strengths, you also have weaknesses. We need to teach our children that they are both strong and weak and that is okay!
Confidence is a difficult thing to attain. It starts as a little seed and grows slowly. Some days it gets trampled so badly you have to rip the plant out and start again. Developing confidence in your child is equally as difficult. Some days you just have to step back and say hey, I did that or said that wrong, this is what I should have said or done, will you forgive me? While other days the offer of a hug might be enough. For a child to be confident, they have to find it within themselves. They do this by learning, they do this by trying, and they learn this by failing. I teach my kids to say “I tried, I failed, I will try again”. I teach them that they don’t need to be the best at everything, but they do need to try at least once. I teach them walk into the world and treat others as they want to be treated.
Natural consequences are something I struggle with on a daily basis. It is hard-wired into my brain and all of my actions to protect my child from suffering in any fashion. I have to fight internal battles all day long some days because I want to feel like a good parent. I have to coach myself all day long not to step in where my children are qualified to make their own choices. I have to remind myself that telling my child that if they don’t eat supper, they will be very hungry in the middle of the night, is consequence enough. When they wake in the night with their stomachs cramping I will say “you chose not to eat any supper, do you think that is why your tummy hurts?…what will you do differently next time?” I have to remind myself about natural consequences every day! I am lucky to have many people in my village to also remind me, to ask me “what is the worst that will happen if they make that choice? If it wont hurt them, it will teach them, and there is no need to veto their decision”. Active parenting, means helping your child to figure out what went wrong, not to prevent them from ever making a mistake.
Communication is a huge topic of debate in the blogs I read. At what age does a child understand appropriate vs inappropriate behavior? Is verbal communication the only way to get your point across? No, communication is all about tone, body language and consistency.
Raising children is not a job, it is not a series of jobs, it is not a life long career of giving without appreciation. Active parenting is a lifestyle, it is about learning to be the type of person you want your children to emulate. It is about teaching your children to be productive members of society.
I am not perfect, I have a lot to learn, I will never learn enough. But in the mean time I will try my best and hopefully my children wont be too scarred when they grow to be adults.