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Love. A four letter word with such impact and weight. A word that shapes and molds these little humans into well-rounded citizens so that they can go out into this world and show love to all those around them. Just stop and think for a moment how much love impacts a child. As stated in the education.com article, “…nature’s partner is nurture, the environmental conditions that influence development. Children’s experiences in the environment affect all aspects of their being, from the health of their bodies to the curiosity of their minds. Nurture affects children’s development through multiple channels: physically through nutrition, activity, and stress; intellectually through informal experiences and formal instruction; and socially through adult role models and peer relationships. With good environmental support, children thrive.”
I will warn you that the next 14 things are NOT for the faint of heart. They are not easy. They are items that I personally work on each day. Fourteen points that I want to be mindful of as I raise my children.
Show Your Children Love by…
Loving Their Father/Vital People in your Child’s Life
Children learn through modeling. They soak in their environment and what they see becomes their expectations for the future. Showing children how to humbly love one another is critical. Let them see you be vulnerable. Show them that it is okay to say you are sorry and to acknowledge your mistakes. Let them see that love is mutually respecting one another. That affection and touch are done in a loving way only when it is comfortable for both people. Have them help you in planning random acts of kindness as you invest in those that you love. Model to them how the needs of those you love are at the forefront of your brain as you model treating others the way that you want to be treated.
And you may be saying… “but you don’t walk in my shoes”. That is completely true. I will never walk in your shoes or know what it is like but I do know that much of these issues are adult problems. They are not things that children need to see or hear. I know that we do not live in a perfect world where all families are one cohesive unit but I do know that even if you are not with the father of your child, the words you choose when you speak of their father will affect them. That age-old saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” holds so much weight when it comes to this topic. The people that your children love hold such a valuable place in their hearts. It will only hurt your child and your relationship if your angst gets the better of you. Take the higher road.
So much of what they see in themselves, they have learned from you. As you poke at your “fat” in the mirror or comment about the ugly shape of your nose, they see it all. They learn that those are the things that we do. We pick at ourselves and critique our “flaws”. They watch as our eyes dart to another woman near us as we size her up and down and compare her to ourselves. Let us work together to lift each other up instead of compare one another. Help us to see the beauty in our “flaws” or at the very least not pick at them or express them in front of our children. My hope is that that inner voice that degrades myself will not be passed on to my children. I do not want them to hear those voices like I do but instead, I want them to hear my voice lifting them up and cheering them on.
Loving their Beauty
With that being said, love everything about the way your child looks. They are a part of you and they are beautiful. No matter the size or the shape, they are beautiful. You are their number one cheerleader in life. A comment, although meant with the best of intentions can be detrimental. I think of the amazing show “This Is Us”. My mind immediately goes to Kate who her whole life has suffered from an addiction to food. It had been a focus for her and a topic which comments that were made carried over to her adult life. Although no one meant the comment in a vicious manner, it still stung.
Help them to see that they do not need the make-up, hair dye, or fancy clothes to make them beautiful. Who they naturally hold so much beauty.
Loving Who They Are on the Inside
Every night before my babies go to bed I whisper into their ear, “The most important thing is to have a kind heart.” I try to be very conscious of how much they hear compliments about their clothing or accessories or beauty. I try to counter this with compliments on things that make them beautiful on the inside. It is important for them to see the beauty and value in who they are as a person.
Being lifelong learners is something that we all should strive to be. Show them that you are always learning. Let them know that you make mistakes and that you seek out ways to learn and grow from them. There is so much out there to learn and grow from. Let them find the joy in mastering a new craft or the satisfaction of solving a problem that has puzzled you for some time.
One of the best gifts you can give your child is the gift of literature. Read to them. Show them the word that they can experience as they get lost between the pages of a good book. Let them see you pour over books. Help them see the value of words and how they can empower them. We may be raising children for jobs that do not even exist yet but one thing is certain, a rich language will be pertinent no matter the career.
Loving their Independence
The clock is ticking, you are late and your child insists on tying their own shoe. Your patience is tried as you let them fumble and try again and again. It is hard. I know. But that perseverance is so pertinent. The independence and strength they show is a trait that will help them go far in life.
Loving their Failures
They will fail. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Love them for the mistakes they make no matter how hard that can be. Let them know that no matter what mistakes they make they will always be loved by you.
Loving their Curiosity
A child’s eyes see this big world with such freshness that is inspiring to all that is around them. Foster this sense of curiosity and soak it up yourself. Get excited when they ask all the questions…who, what, when, where, WHY? Research with them. Learn and grow together and let them know that it is good to question the world around them.
Loving the Time Spent Together
Making time for each child can be so critical. You are not guaranteed tomorrow. Think about the memories that you want to leave your children with. How do you want them to remember you? Love your child with everything you have. Each day is a blessing and we must make the most of it. Say yes more often and live in the moment.
Loving the Little Moments
If you read my post about my biggest fear you will know my need to hold these little moments close. We hear all the time how fast this time goes. Sometimes when you are in the middle of it all, when the days are long and the fits seem endless it is hard to remember that this time is so fleeting. But even just looking back on the few years, you realize that it is so true. You do not realize at the time that it is your last time carrying your baby down to bed or the last time you will spoon feed them. Looking back you will realize that moment is gone and all that is left are the memories that you have soaked up.
Loving their Educators
My youngest started preschool this year. I took a long time reflecting on her school endeavors and allowing myself to let go. I even wrote a letter to her new teacher in which I poured my heart out as I handed my baby to them. Educators play such an important role in the life of our children. They spend so many hours with our babies. Teachers love our children and so it is important for our children to hear us talk highly of their teachers. If there is a discrepancy with something that has happened at school, make sure that it is discussed in private in a very neutral manner. We want them to hold their educators to the highest regards and not have their views tainted by our options or thoughts.
Loving their Quirks
These little things that make your child them may at time challenge you. Find the beauty in the uniqueness that makes them who they are. After all, they are partially made up of you…maybe upon reflection their little quirks are a little familiar. 😉
Loving their Dreams
Believe in their dreams and let them know that you will support them. If they want to be astronauts, take them to a space museum and find all the books in the library about being an astronaut. If they want to be an artist or basketball player, find classes to hone in on their skills. Be their cheerleader and their number one support.