Life will be better if you reinforce these three thoughts with your child regularly.
I’m sure my parents made me wear my mittens and eat a healthy breakfast before school each morning when I was young, but that’s not what stuck with me throughout the day. For me, as the child of parents who divorced when I was in my early elementary years, the tone of my day was often set by whether or not I heard my parents arguing in the morning or whether they individually sent me off for the day with a hug and some form of “go get ’em!” encouragement.
This memory guides me daily in the parenting of my own children.
What matters most are the words we say to our kids before they start their day, or perhaps more importantly, what they actually hear from us.
I’ve noticed this to be especially true with my first born when she was 8. Even if we were just rushing to get ready in the morning and I didn’t leave enough time to get through our typical morning routine (including a special sequence of kisses after breakfast), her tummy would start hurting on the way to school and I could see anxiety creep in.
However, when I simply made sure to send them out the door properly (even if it’s without a hot meal!), I noticed that they walked away feeling as if they could conquer the world.
So regardless of whether your kids are 2 or 22, I’ve found three things you need to instill in your children before they leave your presence each day:
1. Remind them who they are.
There are 1,000 forces influencing your children today, and if you are not going to be the primary one reminding them who they are, there are plenty of other songs, television shows and undesirables that will be happy to let them know who they should be.
I like to take every opportunity possible to remind my children who they are. I highlight their best characteristics, and have discussions on what qualities we hope to make stronger in our lives. I ask them what they like about themselves, and what skills they would like to develop. And most of all, I remind them that they are members of our family who represent us wherever they go.
2. Set clear expectations.
You may feel like you have told your children 1 million times to keep their hands to themselves and use their manners, yet the minute you let them loose in a public place, it all seems to escape their brains.
Instead, set aside a minute before you go into any establishment and remind your children of the expectations you have while you are in there. As much as possible, paint a picture of what will happen and how you expect them to behave. If necessary, remind them of what you will be doing after you leave to give them something to look forward to or so they can plan accordingly if they are type-A firstborns like mine!
If you have older kids who are going along with some of your errands begrudgingly, take time to figure out what would be important for them to accomplish that day and acknowledge where they stand in your schedule. That will make it a much more enjoyable experience for the entire family, though they still may not enjoy the errands.
3. Let them know they are loved.
This should go without saying, but statistics prove that the older our children get, the less we tell them we love them and subsequently the less they feel loved.
But don’t just tell your children they are loved, show them. After all, our actions speak much louder than our words. Take the time to constantly reevaluate what is important to them, and make an effort to do that with them and for them. Look into what their love language is, and make every attempt to meet that need. Children who don’t believe they are loved by their parents will find other ways to get attention.
The last thing you want is for your children to walk out of the house and not know if they truly comprehend who they are, what is expected of them and whether or not they are loved. If you can meet these three needs in their lives, you can be a much more confident parent all the way through their college years.
I can’t say that I remember to do each of these things every single time I’m with my kids, but I will admit that life moves along much more smoothly when I do. If you don’t have the luxury of seeing your child each morning before he or she starts the day, why not call, write a note, or even text?
I’ve also found these principles especially powerful to reinforce when praying over my children each night.
Regardless of the time of day, be sure to make the most of every opportunity to go over these three principles with your kids, and I know you will soon see the difference it makes in their character.
This post was written by Sami Cone, a blogger, TV and radio personality who encourages families to live their best life on less and pursue their passions. She thrives in Nashville with her husband and two children. You can keep up with her frugal family adventures & travel deals on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.