Three beautiful children call me mommy. They are now 7, almost 5 and 2 years old. I feel blessed beyond words to be their mother but the great love that I have for them definitely does not make me a perfect parent. As much as I’d like to be, it’s just not so. Sometimes I get impatient and give my child an unfair consequence without allowing them to explain their behaviour. Sometimes I choose housework, meal prep or responding to an email over a request for much needed mommy playtime. Sometimes I raise my voice when I could have stepped back, assessed where my frustration was really coming from and responded with a lot more patience.
Parenting requires a lot of discipline doesn’t it? Not just the kind we use to teach our children but also the kind we have to practice ourselves. It takes discipline to remember each day how to reach their hearts, to connect and build stronger and more open channels of communication and love. Intentional parenting benefits the whole family and is so worth the effort but it also takes hard work!
There is a “list” of simple yet profound things that I try to do each day with our 2 older children. Ways that I hope to reach their hearts and ensure that they go to bed each night feeling unconditionally loved. There is nothing worse than laying in bed at night wanting to go wake up your child because of guilt or regret that you didn’t make the time to connect more deeply with them that day right? Sometimes days and weeks are understandably busy but I think what it comes down to is “Did I do my best today?” I always want to be able to answer YES to that question and I’m sure you do too.
In addition to an abundance of hugs and kisses, here are 5 (of many) ways to fill up your child’s heart each and every day!
- Speak words of affirmation- Not just “I love you” but “I’m really proud of you when…” “You make me so happy” “I love the way you…” “I appreciate how you..” When our kids hear these words it motivates, encourages and enhances their ability to learn! It builds courage in them and creates a calm spirit.There is so much more that can be said on this subject but the overall takeaway is that when we invest the time into communicating this way we do SO much for their self esteem and feeling of acceptance.
- Ask your child an open ended question to allow them to talk about whatever they want. “Do you have anything that you’d like to tell me about right now?” “Something you’d like to show me?” I know it might feel like they talk to you and show you things most of the day but see what happens when you ask them first! Sometimes they say no and sometimes you’ll get to hear new thoughts, feelings or ideas that you may not have otherwise.
- Give them an opportunity to try something that they think (or you think) they’re not old enough or capable enough to do! This also builds up self-esteem in a huge way. I personally have to work on remembering this one. My perfectionist/”get it done” personality can be a hindrance in this area so I have to be very mindful to “step aside” and let them help/try! I have such great admiration for the mom’s that I know who excel in this area, some even through social media! You inspire me to be more laid back-THANK YOU!
- Don’t be afraid to say “I made a mistake” and “I’m sorry” Acknowledging struggles/weakness won’t make your child lose confidence in you or respect for you, in fact it will likely do the opposite. When I admit that I’ve made a mistake and apologize my own heart is lightened and my child has been given a clear example of humility. Win Win.
- PLAY. I’m not talking about reading stories. I know this can be hard for some mama’s (and dad’s too). I dealt with guilt about this subject for a long time actually. I often wondered, “why is it so hard for me to get down on the floor and just play?” I’ll be sharing more about the important change that I made in this area in another post but for now just want to remind you that playing is speaking their language and builds a unique connection with your child so even if the activity feels difficult to get into or hard to find the time for just try your best to do it anyways! Staying “young at heart” benefits not only your child but you too!There are so many other ways that we can reach our children’s hearts and help them develop into confident and caring individuals. These are just a few that I strive to do intentionally each day. Maybe these things come really naturally to you as a parent, maybe you’re needing a little reminder. You might not be a parent yet, you might have grown children. Wherever you’re at right now, thank you for letting me share my heart.
I would LOVE to hear some of the things you do to connect with your young (or older) children! We’re all in this together as mothers to encourage and inspire xx~Lynnelle