There are three gifts to give our children; love, roots and wings – and we can do this by modelling the behaviours we want to see in our children as they grow.
There’s always a myriad of questions and statements made when our tiny people first come into the world. “How beautiful”, “He/she looks just like you”, “I wonder what he/she will grow into?”. In a flash they are walking, talking and at school. Next they are behaving differently. The influences of other children bought up differently, teachers, principals and school disciplines impact different behaviours. These factors and more play a part in our children’s necessary growth and development. Is it good? Or is it bad?
How do we stop the influences we don’t like from impacting our children? Do we say no? Do we stop/restrict our kids from spending the time with various people, groups, etc? What do we do as a parent? If we say yes all the time, are we asking for trouble? If we say no are we asking for even more trouble? How do we find the balance that empowers them to make the best choices they can? How do we as parents prepare ourselves for the individual growth of our children? We want them to stand on their own two feet and believe in themselves. It can be in our uptightness and protection that actually stops their best growth. How do we guide and support our children to be their best?
Allowing guided freedom of choice will help children in every age category from small kids to tween, teens to adolescence and their continuing journey into adulthood. We as ‘Big People’ know exactly how we like to be treated, therefore what would be the worst thing to happen if we treated our children as little versions of us? When they have a question, we stop and listen, bend our knees and discuss. This way we are fully engaged when responding and having age-appropriate conversations. We, of course, appreciate being listened to, so doing the same for our children is essential. As our children grow in height, there is less need to bend our knees, however, they will remember the connection. Communicating this way o ers many advantages, including feeling con dent and comfortable to discuss tricky issues, because it’s a trusted space for them. Children will become empowered and con dent because we have respected and supported them.
We want our children to feel comfortable approaching us. We want our children to feel okay about asking, telling, sharing and discussing things. For them, it creates a safe place to learn, inquire and share. This safety net allows our children to know they can come to us with anything (we hope). Developing these foundations from the early years is helpful with creating this space. Having said this, anytime is a good time to lay the foundations – it will simply need a conversation letting everyone know new ways are going to be encouraged. The first step would be to model the new behaviour and start slowly (remembering changed behaviour takes a little time). The benefits to our children, ourselves and our family life will be noticeable. Communication is the key and, of course, us as parents being their role models.
TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING
• Talk when saying goodnight. Turn the light o and lay down with them as this encourages them to bring up anything bothering them or to have a chat. As time goes on it also enables them to randomly invite us to lay down beside them. We don’t have to say anything, being there is enough and conversations will slowly happen.
• Ask questions around various situations within a community, school, the family etc. It’s a great place to start discussions and hear their opinions. When we hear something we don’t like, take a breath and consider the situation. Taking the time to think before responding will model good thought processes to our children and of course enable us to respond in the best way.
• Ask whose business it is. There are three businesses in our world: God’s business ( floods, earthquakes), your business (everything to do with you) and my business (to do with only myself). When we ask whose business it is, this can lift a lot of pressure for them.
• Appreciating what is happening in their changing world is also key to supporting our children to be the best they can be. So many changes so quickly. We know because we were once there.
• Ask questions! Ask questions and refrain from having an opinion all the time.
• Ask yourself, how would we speak to a friend? Now mirror it with our children.