When our kids are born they are little pieces of perfection. We look at them and promise that they are going to have the perfect life, that we will be the perfect parent, that they won’t have to the life challenges we faced. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it really turned out that way?
We all have our challenges. Kids especially. It’s always been hard to be a kid, with school and acne and braces and lost best friends and that dreaded gym class. They don’t want us but they need us.
Here are five ways you can help your child thrive:
Take the time to sit with him.
Just be in his presence. So many of us spend our time running around, multi tasking. Our child is at the table, doing his homework, and we are making phone calls, chopping vegetables, paying bills. Take a few minutes and just sit next to your child. Share the silence. You will be amazed at what comes up if your child knows he has your full attention and proximity.
Listen to her.
We like to think that we listen to our kids when they talk to us, but many of us are doing other things when they do so. Have you ever found yourself say “uh huh” when your child pauses for reaction and realizing that you have no idea what she just said. When your child talks to you, stop what you are doing and really pay attention. Even if it’s a frivolous story, you might get some nugget of information for future use.
Don’t be a helicopter parent.
Your child is going to make mistakes. He needs to make mistakes. He needs to learn how to do things on his own. If you are always hovering, picking up the pieces when he falls, he will never learn how to do it on his own.
Yes, we have all had challenging life experiences, experiences that we don’t want our children to have. But, no matter how hard we try, we can’t stop them from happening. When you see your child facing something that you faced and failed at, don’t let your feelings of failure enter the conversation. Think about what you might have done differently and share that with her instead. Be positive.
Take care of your child’s health.
It is essential that all of us take care of ourselves—that we get enough sleep and exercise and eat a healthy diet. Many kids these days don’t get enough of the first two and too much of the last one (and often not so healthy). When your child becomes a teenager, it is very difficult to influence his lifestyle choices so it is important to work hard in the early years to instill good habits. Make sure your child has a comfy bed and that she play outside after school. Limit his screen time. Have healthy food available, but don’t make cookies totally taboo. And set a good example in your own life. The rewards will be huge, for everyone.
None of these tips are reinventing the wheel, but they are often overlooked amid the chaos of everyday living. You can do it. Just pay attention, and tweak things here and there, and you will see a huge difference.
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