Recently, while sitting in the cafe at my local pool, I watched a very frustrated mum do her best to force her little boy to get changed. He refused to comply with his mum’s demands to, “Just hurry up and do it!”. She held up a towel for him, and became increasingly irritated when her shy little guy just would not get changed behind it – in the middle of a crowded pool cafe. At her wits end, Mum spoke some choice words and a fiery exchange took place. Finally, the little guy broke rank to find a more private place to get changed.
- Raising confident kids
- One of the most profound ways we can show our kids we care
- Feel, rest and play
That very same day, in the same cafe, I saw another little guy interrupt his mum reading her book. He was in floods of tears, wailing loudly. Mum looked up and put the book on the table, then quietly opened both arms wide and gathered wet little guy into her arms as he continued to wail loudly. As he blurted out his injustice, she quietly listened as she mopped up the tears. Then, as though the storm clouds passed, the little guy took a big breath. He wiped away his tears, looked back at the pool again and ran away to catch his friends.
We all have our tough days, and most of us have had mum-with-the-towel moments, but how would you want to be treated?
A day in the life of a child
A day in the life of a child is a rollercoaster of emotions. The highs and lows of survival can have them utterly overwhelmed a lot of the time. It’s true that kids don’t have the stress or the pressure of holding down a job and a household. But they do have the unrelenting pressure of keeping up with the big kids, finding someone to play with, sharing their stuff, and keeping up with their schoolwork. They’ve also got holding down mum and dad’s expectations, navigating meanness, managing their social media profiles, and staying on top of their snap streaks.
It’s easy to forget the struggles of growing up and just how lost a young person feels most of the time. Maybe you’ve got a child who outwardly stresses about things and bleats about every little thing that is bothering them. Maybe you’ve got a child who likes to give you the impression that they can manage every little thing thing all by themselves. Regardless of their temperament, all kids need to know that their parents have their back and wholeheartedly believe in them.
The importance of affirmation
It’s one thing to care deeply about our kids. It’s another thing entirely tell them in a way they truly understand. Most of the time our love for our kids sounds more like, “Have you brushed your teeth?”, “Have you done your homework?” or, “It’s time to put your phone away”. In other words, sometimes we express our love for our kids in ways that can sound more like asking, organising, nagging, or complaining. What our kids really need to know is that we see the best in them. Even on their tough days.
I’ve been fortunate to have a few people in my life that have believed in me way more than I’ve even believed in myself. It’s been their unshakable belief in me that has topped my own, and given me the confidence to take a risk and reach for new things. It’s their confidence in me that has dragged my reluctant self doubting tail over the line. As parents, let’s never underestimate the power of holding our kids with unrelenting love – to believe in them more than they even believe in themselves quite yet. Let’s give them the message loud and clear ‘you’ve got this’ and ‘I believe in you’. Encouragement is like fuel for our kids.
Topping up the emotional tank
One sure way to top up the balance of your child’s emotional tank is to pour in some encouragement. Sometimes we need to carve out some space between our last request and our next request to actually fill their tank with enough love.
Speaking to our kids with love and respect is like learning a whole new language. It’s especially tough when we ourselves have been on the receiving end of some ‘tough love’. But slip a few kind lines into your back pocket for when the time is right. They’ll serve you well when you are raising the next generation of problem solvers and game changers.
Here are a few swaps you can make in day-to-day life that might make all the difference –
- Instead of, “Who did you play with today?” try, “You are exactly the kind of friend I wanted when I was your age.”
- Instead of, “No, and don’t ask me again.” try, “Great question, ask me again when you’re 18.”
- Instead of, “Will you just hurry up and do it?” try, “Do you need some help?”
- Instead of, “A bit of hard work never hurt anyone.” try, “I can see that you have a lot of strength and determination.”
- Instead of, “Don’t speak to me like that!” try, “Lets try that again, I didn’t hear your manners.”