By Howard Reznick, LCSW-C
As parents we are destined to give a truck load of attention to our children in the form of time, money, love, guidance, and discipline. In turn, being a parent grows us up, opens our hearts to learning patience, teaches us how to really love and give without expectation, and guarantees loss of sleep and lots of worrying and concern.
Everyone’s lives are hectic. It’s no surprise that parents are tired at the end of the day. But it’s important to remember that the time and attention we invest in our kids when they are young will pay off as they grow. Showering a child with love never hurts. No need to worry about spoiling, so long as it’s with love and not material things. We want our kids to remember the positive attention we gave them, not just the negative. Of course, it’s not as simple as saying that reading that same picture book eight times in a day when they are 11 months old will keep them out of the principal’s office when they are in middle school, but research shows more attention can certainly help.
So, what’s a parent to do?
- At least once a day, to the best of your ability, listen with interest to something each of your children wants to tell you — even if does not match a topic of great interest to you. It could be about the latest fad, their inter-personal drama or techno-gadgets.
- Gladly do carpool (well, try to do it gladly anyway) and listen more than you talk. You may hear more than you want too, but you’ll learn a lot about their world.
- If they will let you, make room for them to cuddle with you.
- Lift your voice in praise, lower it in admonishment.
- Catch them in the act of doing something right!
- Acknowledge how tough it can sometimes be to be a kid and offer your admiration for how they’re dealing with it.
- If they tried their best but didn’t quite hit the mark, the phrase “good mistake” can be great feedback. It lets them know you appreciate they tried to do the right thing. (Good advice for parents, too.)
- With a smile on your face, make good eye contact with your child as often as possible.
- In your heart, express your thanks to the one above who gave you the gift of your children.
How our kids end up is never completely in our control, but there’s a very good chance that showering them with love and attention early on will enhance their emotional well-being.
Howard Reznick, LCSW-C is Manager for JCS Prevention Education.
Because parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.