How many times do you criticise your child in a day? And how many times do you affirm them?
I did that test myself one day and didn’t do great. I affirmed all the kids that day, but only once each.
But when it came to criticism, or nagging, or complaining, I did it to all three kiddos…multiple times. (Okay, I admit I lost count.)
“Vera, why is your room always so untidy?”
“JJ, why do you take so long to come when I call?”
“Eeks, Josh, you’re such a mess!”
And I asked myself “Why is it so easy to point out their flaws and faults, and so hard to acknowledge their good sides?”
Today’s kids face performance-related pressures more than ever before. We expect them to do well in school, finish their homework on time, be a shining example to their siblings, help their younger siblings, the list goes on.
What is the result of a high-stress, fast-paced, and overly critical environment?
Highly stressed out and anxious children.
And are they getting enough love and support from us? I think that receiving unconditional love and acceptance in the home is an antidote to the world’s burgeoning mental health problem.
Do we accept them for who they are, mess, quirks, tantrums and all?
Are we ready to forgive and give grace when they make mistakes?
Are we generous with our time, love, words of praise and affirmation, and most importantly our presence?
The word for me this season? Delight in my children.
They may frustrate you. They may defy or turn a deaf ear to your instructions. Their untidiness may drive you up the wall.
But take pleasure in them. Rejoice over them. Remember they are God’s gifts to us. Remember that He finds great joy in them, as He does too in us.
Sometimes I think I express so much disdain that they may feel like they’re not good enough. Now that’s a really scary thought.
How can we express our infinite joy in our children and make it known to them?
1. Practice unconditional love. Let your children know they are loved, regardless of how well or poorly they perform in school or in their chosen sports/hobbies.
2. Use affirming words: You are God’s wonderful gift to me. You are my precious son/daughter. You are beautiful not just on the outside but on the inside, because you are loving and kind to others.
3. Be curious. When asking about their day, replace the question “Any homework?” with “How was your day?” or “Who did you have recess with?” or “What was the best /worst part of today?”
4. Write them little love /encouraging notes.
5. Practise restoration. End off any discipline or confrontation with “I may be angry because I don’t like this behaviour…but I still love you.”
6. Be a great listener. When they are sharing about a funny or exciting story, give them the time of day and your full presence.
7. Lavish them with hugs and kisses.
8. Spend time with them. For 30 minutes a day, log off all devices and tune into their hearts.
As we put aside a critical spirit and put on an affirming spirit, we may begin to see a different side to our children.
When we focus on their strengths and speak life into their gifts, they will learn that they are worthy and have unique talents to offer the world.
“See a child differently, you see a different child.” – Dr Stuart Shanker