Children are tough. There’s no easy way to put it and there’s sure as hell no rule book. You just do what you can–what you think is right–and hope that they turn into wholesome adults. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.
But before I get carried away, I’d like to approach this differently than you may think. I’m not here to bash parents, not at all, because who truly knows what your child needs except you- the person who made and raised them?
What I’d like to do instead is empower you as parents and simply give you some insight into the basics of being around another human–any human, for that matter. You see, there are some simple, tried and true methods of interacting in interpersonal relationships that automatically set you up for success and I’d like to introduce you to those.
Some of these I pulled from my own personal life experiences and what I felt I lacked when it was my time to take the world by storm, but many of these theories and ideas have come from observation and direct implementation of them in the six families I’ve nannied for in my career.
Enjoy and I hope this helps make raising a little human a tad bit easier!
Ah!! The dreaded fear of so many parents–INDEPENDENCE! But, honestly, I think fearing independence, or even discouraging it, is silly.
It starts when you have a baby and you see exactly how dependant a child can really be. You’re like holy fucking shit, this is a ton of work! But then it also dawns on you that your baby is capable of nothing at the moment and wouldn’t be able to stay alive without your care. This realization can give parents a lot of anxiety and cause them to be overprotective if they don’t understand how to properly grow as their child grows.
I will not lie to you! It is so easy to just become one with your child and forget that you are your own person, but do not get trapped into that. Establish independence and the concept of ‘self’ within your baby and within yourself from an early age so that the child understands they are (or will be) capable of doing things on their own, but also so you can maintain your own identity.
As your child grows and begins to communicate, try offering them choices. Put yourself in their shoes…do you want to eat mushy peas every single day? Probably not. And if you did have to eat mushy peas every day, would you eventually get very upset by your lack of choice in the matter? Probably.
Think of it this way. What do we get when we suppress the feelings and opinions of a group of people? A revolution.The same can apply here on maybe a not so different scale! LOL! So, if you’re trying to force your kid to like and eat broccoli when they’re screaming and throwing the worst tantrum you’ve ever seen, why not ask if they’d like carrots instead or maybe even cucumbers? At the end of the day, they’re all vegetables aren’t they? And if you could get them to eat vegetables without a revolution, would you want to pursue that course of action? Well….there you go!
I want to quickly take this opportunity to point out that I’m not saying you should just give your child unlimited choices and turn them into spoiled, picky brats. I’m saying instead that, by nature, humans want to have opinions and choices, and I think it’s fair we extend those rights to our children.
Let your kids develop their own likes and dislikes because, as much as it stings to hear this, your children are not you. I’m sorry, but somebody had to say it!
Choices are a great way to establish independence, so when it comes time for choices to make their first appearance, try not to dread it or get too pushy, just take a step back and observe this wonderful life you’ve created finally come into their own.
While this may seem a bit elementary to add, it’s highly important! Kids need attention because how else will they learn what it takes to live in this world, not to mention how they should behave? Observing them and being able to dedicate time to your child and guide them in their experiences and behaviors is the best thing you can do to help them grow into wholesome adults.
It’s not necessary to shadow their every move because that also has its downfalls. Being too present and overbearing in their life can create a mindset in children that someone will always be there to help them or handle things for them, which isn’t always bad but it definitely can be when taken to the extreme. They have to understand independence, too, as I mentioned earlier!
Another reason attention is important is because it has a lot to do with self-esteem. If you’re making an effort to engage or play with your child then they will feel more confident because kids understand that you could be working or cooking or cleaning instead. Whereas, if you don’t dedicate a lot of quality time to your child, then they may grow up to have low self-confidence and end up adopting negative attention-seeking behaviors.
Don’t discount your kids! They are smart and they know how valuable your time is. I mean, let’s be honest, what percentage of our time do we really spend giving our children 100% of our attention? Probably not as much as we would like…So paying special attention to your child is always a way to try and improve not only your relationship with them, but also improve their self-esteem and set them up for success as adults.
I feel like with attention naturally comes affection, but that may not be true for everyone. I want to express to all of you that giving affection to your children truly does matter. Growing up getting hugs and kisses is great for self-esteem and self-confidence, but, in addition, it’s completely natural behavior that they should continue once they grow older and have relationships themselves.
Healthy relationships, and how to create and navigate those relationships, is a huge key to happiness. When kids grow up being shown a healthy relationship then they will most likely reciprocate those observed behaviors once they get older and start to create their own lives. Hugs and kisses are only a small part of this, but the overarching concept of ‘affection’ is vital to the success of a romantic relationship, so it’s very important to make this a priority in your parenting style.
Instances where affection plays a key role in relationship to your child and development would be when you choose to love and show affection to your child despite their decisions. There will be many times in your parenting journey where you may simply have differences of opinion with your child. A classic example is music preferences. You may not be a fan of hip-hop but your child may be a mega-fan. Differences of opinion like this are the appropriate time to let your child have their own opinions while you still love them anyway. Just because hip-hop isn’t your taste doesn’t mean you can’t be content to love your child and treat them kindly.
Being able to mix the two concepts of independence and affection is tricky, but if you can figure out a way to be at peace with the fact your child may end up a different person than you would like and then you can continue to love and interact with them the same despite that….they will love and value you for this unconditional love–always. I can almost guarantee it.
As this all comes to a close, you may be surprised that I didn’t talk about the typical parenting do’s and dont’s and I hope you found it a pleasant surprise because that’s just not my style. I believe that if you can generate a healthy relationship with your child based on mutual love, respect, and independence, then things will turn out good, regardless of the petty, mainstream details.
Best of luck on your parenting journey and I’ll be back soon with more articles to help you out!
About The Author…
Mica Mackenzie is the founder and CEO of The Quiet Nonsense, LLC. She currently lives in Dallas with her boyfriend, Hunter, and their