Lately my husband and I have been back and forth on our concern about moving our ten-year-old daughter from a home she loves and the close proximity to her cousins and family for an out-of-state job position. We are in the middle of making the decision to keep a steady income with the possibility of moving or taking a less paying job and staying. It has been a roller coaster of pros and cons. So I thought I would do some research on what children really need…their REAL needs vs COMFORT needs. So, here are some of my findings, mixed in with my own thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these ideas will help encourage you to invest a little more in the children within your life.
CONVERSATION: I strongly believe kids need to be heard and when you truly listen there is a stronger investment in the relationships. Talk to your kids regularly, don’t be too quick to fix their problems or tell them what you would do. Listen and allow them to get out their feelings, to see that you are truly engaging in their needs and concerns. This will help them to always open up and talk. Try and see yourself in their childlike shoes. What may seem like a small problem, to them may be a big experience—listen and empathize. Help love them through.
Tips & Tricks: Have a highlight moment of the day & ask your kids what were the highlights of their day. Play a get to know you even better game in the car & have fun questions for one another. Have fun family questions on the dinner table to pick and choose from when you have a quiet moment together.
CONNECTION: I have heard time and time again that kids who feel closely connected to their parents that they want to cooperate. There are many things to consider when talking about connection like play, hugs and affection, getting rid of outside distractions, etc. It is easier to ask your child to get out of bed in the morning if you spend a few minutes snuggling in bed with them or read them something inspirational before sleep. My daughter loves it when I tickle and rub her arms, we also have personal back scratches that create waterfalls, rainbows, rose petals, raindrops…that help soothe and relax her. Its a good way to connect and help her feel safe. Be present with your child. Focus on being with them then and there. You only have so much time with your child until they are all grown up and move on, so be with them, listen to them, connect with them on any and every level.
Tips & Tricks: According to many sources—people needs 8 hugs a day. So think about, plan it out and give those hugs to those you love…morning, noon and night, just because & always to say “I Love you.” I came across a good quote to remember Focus on CONNECTING, not just CORRECTING.
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” -Virginia Satir
PRAISE & APPRECIATE: Notice the little details in moments of greatness. When you as a parent are awarded a piece of art done by your little one, take a moment and look at the details, comment on the great use of colors, the pattern, the background. Don’t just respond with “great drawing.” Always try to point out the good moments in any situation. My daughter is constantly at odds with cousins touching her stuff and playing with things without asking. I have to talk her through those moments & point out how well she handled the little kids with kindness and patience. Make sure you take special moments to praise your little ones in front of your spouse. Since my husband travels a lot it is fun to sit down together and talk about all the highlights he missed while he was gone. Be silly & make some noise–kids really do LOVE the attention when you yell their name as they jump out of the car and run to the school or when they are performing and you whistle loud and scream their name. Create moments of celebration–whether you have a special dinner in honor of entering reflections, or give a gold coin for good behavior, honor your child for being the special person they are.
Tips & Tricks: Have a special spot (fridge, personal bulletin board, special shelf) to allow children to shine and share their artwork or a outstanding test. Make a special book each year that you include their artwork and special tests, write a special letter & make it a cherished keepsake.
PLAY: have nicknames, special handshakes & songs you make up together. Play creates moments of rituals and tradition. We have special songs we sing for Halloween that we made up together, we have recently created a special “Fairy Day” for the first of May, because fairies have been a special addition to our whimsical world of imagination. My daughter comes home with fun handshakes and teaches them to me & our nicknames go on and on depending on the mood of the day.
Tips & Tricks: Take time to create moments of play together—make fairy houses out of sticks and acorns, tickle each other for the television remote, put puzzles together and make candy bets during card games. Have fun and PLAY!
QUIET TIME: Have some special quiet time as a family. Take 15-30 minutes or more and sit down together–read, write in your journals, meditate, go on a walk, do something that takes you away from the noise of the day. Children need your undivided attention, but they also need quiet spaces. Your time and attention is so vital to the relationship between you and your child. Taking this time together will be able to mend wounds, heal hurts, create moments that will open up conversations and will ultimately take care of any need that arises.
Tips & Tricks: Give your child a special place in their room that is a good reading corner. Have a great chair or pillow where they can read, write, be still. My daughter has just began to write in her journal each night before bed. Yeah!! Create opportunities of quality time with your child. Have a special day each week where you go out together. Have daily quiet time where you just talk or read together.
Additional Tips & Tricks from an Expert: According to Dr. Harley Rotbart, author of No Regrets Parenting–Turning Long Days and Short years into Cherished Moments for your Kids, he said this…
What do kids really need from their parents?
1. Security–Kids must feel safe and sound. This means providing them with basic survival needs (shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm)
2. Stability–Stability comes from family and community.
3. Consistency–Parents must synchronize their parenting. No “good cop, bad cop.” Consistency also means that important values should not be changed casually or for convenience.
4. Emotional Support–Parents words and actions should facilitate kids trust, respect, self-esteem, and independence.
5. Love–Saying and showing you love your kids can overcome almost any parenting “mistake” you might make. Even when kids have disobeyed, angered, frustrated, and rebelled against you, they must know that you love them and that you’ll always love them.
6. Education–Make sure your kids get the best possible education for their future. This, of course, includes school. But it also includes the valuable lessons about life that you provide during the time you spend together.
7. Positive role models–Parents are their kids first and most important role models. Be the kind of person you want them to become.
8. Structure–Rules, boundaries, and limited: Without them, kids are forced to be adults before they are ready, and they lose respect for you and other adults.
Well, I hope these ideas will spark some motivations to do more with your little ones. Happy Parenting. Happy Day. -Heather