Do you hold certain stereotypes of your child?
I tend to think my boys just cannot organise themselves well, and are generally quite messy.
Just this week, however, one of them proved me wrong.
When scooping out yoghurt for himself and his siblings, he took care not to drip the yoghurt on the table. When he needed to grab another spoon to clean out the yoghurt spoon, he asked for help to hold that spoon. When he came back, he gingerly cleaned out the yoghurt spoon.
When I saw the amount of care he put into this simple action, I was surprised. And I said, “Wow, JJ, I like how you scooped the yoghurt so carefully and cleanly.”
This is one of the first few times I have used those adjectives on him. He was probably surprised too.
It taught me not to hold on to my stereotypes of him so tightly. Because every person has the potential to transcend the limits we place on them in our minds.
It also taught me to open my heart to see and behold the good.
Our children are capable of growth; they are capable of doing great things, if only we will let them out of the box we have placed them in in our minds.
LOVE IS PATIENT, EVEN WHEN PATIENCE IS TESTED
How many times do you criticise your child in a day? And how many times do you affirm them?
I did that test myself one day and didn’t do great. I affirmed all the kids that day, but only once each.
But when it came to criticism, or nagging, or complaining, I did it to all three kiddos… multiple times.
“Vera, why is your room always so untidy?” “JJ, why do you take so long to come when I call?” “Eeks, Josh, you’re such a mess!”
And I asked myself, “Why is it so easy to point out their flaws and faults, and so hard to acknowledge their good sides?”
The kids of today face performance-related pressures more than ever before. We expect them to do well in school, finish their homework on time, be a shining example to their siblings, help their younger siblings, the list goes on.
What is the result of a high-stress, fast-paced, and overly critical environment?
Highly stressed out and anxious children.
I think that receiving unconditional love and acceptance in the home is an antidote to the world’s burgeoning mental health problem.
Are they getting enough love and support from us? Do we accept them for who they are – mess, quirks, tantrums and all?
Are we ready to forgive and give grace when they make mistakes?
Are we generous with our time, love, words of praise and affirmation, and most importantly our presence?
LOVE IS KIND, EVEN WHEN OTHERS ARE NOT KIND
The word for me this season is to take delight in my children.
They may frustrate you. They may defy you or turn a deaf ear to your instructions. Their untidiness may drive you up the wall.
But take pleasure in them. Rejoice over them. Sometimes I think I express so much disdain that they may feel like they’re not good enough. Now that’s a really scary thought.
How can we express our infinite joy in our children and make it known to them?
1. Practise unconditional love.
Let your children know they are loved, regardless of how well or poorly they perform in school or in their chosen sports or hobbies.
2. Use affirming words.
You are a gift to me. You are my precious son/daughter. You are beautiful not just on the outside but on the inside, because you are loving and kind to others.
3. Be curious.
When asking about their day, replace the question “Any homework?” with “How was your day?” or “Who did you have recess with?” or “What was the best /worst part of today?”
4. Write them little love/encouraging notes.
5. Practise restoration.
End off any discipline or confrontation with: “I may be angry because I don’t like this behaviour… but I still love you.”
6. Be a great listener.
When they are sharing about a funny or exciting story, give them the time of day and your full presence.
7. Lavish them with hugs and kisses.
8. Spend time with them.
For 30 minutes a day, log off all devices and tune in to their hearts.
As we put aside a critical spirit and put on an affirming spirit, we may begin to see a different side to our children.
When we focus on their strengths and speak life into their gifts, they will learn that they are worthy and have unique talents to offer the world.
This article is a combination of two articles that were originally posted on June's blog, Mamawearpapashirt, "Do you notice and affirm your child for doing good?" and "How to speak life into our children's gifts", and has been republished with permission.
June Yong is an educational therapist, writer, and mother of three. She is passionate about helping parents hold onto their inner calm and find joy in parenting.