When my kids were little they always tried to snatch my glasses to play with – sometimes they got really bent.  Your kids might not be going for your specs, but they do want to borrow your eyeballs. Children try to look at themselves through their parents’ eyes. They want to know how we see them – that’s how they find out what they are like. They look at us all the time to try and pick up clues. They want to know what we are thinking about them. For instance, when we give our children our trust, when we entrust them with tasks, when we let them handle our precious objects, it tells them, “I think you’re capable. I think you are good. I think you are worthy of my trust.” I remember letting my youngest child help me with cutting wallpaper for the walls when he was only about five. It was a bit scary, and he was a bit rough, but I was able to trim it up afterwards, and he was stoked that I trusted him with something like that.

Another way of lending our children our eyeballs is by giving them positive labels to use about themselves.  “Oh, thank you for bringing that to me – you must be one of those really generous people that enjoy giving things to people.” “Thank you for helping your sister, you’re a really kind person.” Then they know how to label themselves. They are finding out about their own identity, and it is positive.

The image of ourselves that we carry into adult life is usually formed when we were little and to a large extent it is shaped by what we think our parents’ opinion of us was.  Let’s leave our kids in no doubt what our opinion is – we think they are absolutely fantastic!

For more, check out John’s corner.

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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