By Traci L. Gaffney
It’s no secret that the world was once thought to be flat. And it was considered a fact that the world was flat … even though it was not true … until Columbus proved otherwise.
It’s the same thing with parenting. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. Parenting is a complex job. What works for one child, may not necessarily work for another … even in the same family. What worked for you growing up, may not work for your children. There are different personalities, genders, ages, lifestyles, life experiences, learning styles, and so much more. The variables are endless.
Children do not act out for no reason at all. Humans are not wired that way. We are born with love, joy, happiness, laughter and adesire for community. There are so many questions that can be asked to figure out what is happening to cause a child to behave in a certain way. Some of those questions are asked of the child, depending on their age, and some are asked of the parent. If we can awaken our intuition and connection with our children, many times we can steer clear of meltdowns and broken relationships.
Some things that you may want to consider, for example, are if there are events happening in your family that are affecting your child’s environment, mood, and behavior. Is there a new baby in the home? Has there been a recent move, change of schools, an absent parent, or a death? Are there financial issues looming overhead? Children feel what’s happening in the home, even if you think they don’t have a clue. The key is to communicate and reassure our children that they are loved and they are safe.
Quality time and presence … caring enough to sit down one-on-one to have the conversation …goes a long way. When we engage our children and learn about them as individuals, we create a relationship that is built on trust, respect and communication. This is a relationship that will stand the test of time.
As far as what age we begin connecting with our children in this way … whatever age they are today, is perfect. Here are some ideas:
- Infants: Respond to their cries. This is their only form of communication. We need to hear them and respond. This builds trust.
- Toddlers: This is a little tricky sometimes. I suggest starting with sitting on the floor and connecting in whatever way works for them. Many times toddlers just want our attention. If we give them some form of quality time consistently, we are building trust. You’lll start to understand them intuitively, and you’ll better know how to be with them in various situations.
- Elementary school age: This is much easier. After they have recovered from an incident, sit down in a peaceful setting (preferably on the floor), and remind them of the event ~ lovingly ~ asking what they were trying to accomplish. Share back and forth with the intention of learning about them and how they communicate. They will feel heard … so important.
- Middle/High School years: It is much easier to continue this level of communication if you have already established it in the earlier years. However, if you have not, I suggest starting where you are, being in your heart, and coming from the place of wanting to understand them (not to interrogate or get them to see your way, but to learn about them). As you practice, you will get better and you will know where to take the conversation. What’s important is that you are authentic and come from love. This will build trust, even if it sometimes doesn’t look like it.
It’s never too early and it’s never too late to begin building a healthy and loving relationship with your children. It’s okay to have fun doing it too!