Of course you love your children. And… have you ever had days where it seemed like you had to say the same thing over and over again? Or got frustrated stopping the bickering again and raised your voice or said something you wish you hadn’t? Yes. Of course. We nag, remind, reprimand, and give advice because we love them. Yet, sometimes we are so concerned with behavior (or misbehavior) that we lose sight of our child. The result is that our child can lose their connection with themselves. They can begin to see themselves through our critical eyes. They can begin to believe they are incapable and can’t do things right, or that there is something wrong with them. Jane Nelsen, author of the Positive Discipline series of books says, “Children do better when they feel better.” This is not about ensuring that the child is always happy. It is about making sure that the message of love gets through. Here are some ideas for setting limits and making sure that your connection to your child stays strong:
- Honor your child’s uniqueness. Be curious about who your child is as an individual. (Your child is not a mini “you.”)
- Spend time with your child. Listen to their thoughts, ideas, and feelings without judgment. Get behind their eyes to see how things look from their point of view. Take time to get to know who they are.
- Provide encouragement and support when your child is faced with challenges. Help them discuss and problem-solve without “fixing.” Let them know that you have faith in them to figure things out and that you have their back.
- Make time for physical connection. Give lots of affection. We all need tenderness and touch.
- Share family traditions. This helps root your child in their heritage.
- Play with your child. Be spontaneous. Let your child lead.
- Laugh together. Life is not always serious business. When you model lightness, silliness and joy it builds connection, love and joy.
- Make repairs. You can’t be a perfect parent. After you have one of those regrettable parenting moments – and after you have calmed down, take time to apologize and reconnect.