In this blog, we talk about the 7 things your kids need to hear from you.
We all strive to raise kids that are resilient, self-motivated, successful and happy. As parents or guardians, it can be concerning when our kids are less than comfortable in their friendships, education or work situations. Every generation wants something a little less frenetic and stressful than they had when it comes to kids.
In the world we live in these days, we often have little time to nurture our kids like in years gone by. Mum and Dad guilt is a trigger point for stress and stress is a trigger point for ill health. Have you ever felt like you’re on a hamster wheel of work-stress-time-money? Have you ever had that guilt (even a little) of “ I wish I could spend more time with the kids but. . . “ or “The bills need to get paid so I can’t take a day off to be with the kids. . .”
Kids these days know that life is busy. They understand that adults have to prioritise some things. Our fast-paced society has changed what kids need from us but there are 7 things your kids need to hear you say.
As long as you did your best.
We all want success and happiness for our kids. It can be heart-breaking when they fail a test at school, miss out on a job or miss a goal or run in a sporting game. It’s not ‘yay, you did it’ that they need to hear from you. Winning is not everything. Some of society’s greatest minds, sportspeople and contributors had epic failures many times in their lives. What kids really need to hear from you is “ As long as you did your best”. If they did their best, then they can make a personal goal of doing better next time. If they did their best, that’s all they could do with the resources they had at that moment. It is not a reflection on their skills forever. It is a snapshot in time, a fleeting moment. Nothing to be stressed out about or nothing that condemns them forever as a failure. An example is the most famous failure in the world but arguably the greatest mind we have known. Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four-years old. He also failed his entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic school located in Zurich at sixteen-years old. And, even his father, up until the time of his death, considered his son to be a major failure. After eventually graduating from college, Einstein actually worked as an insurance salesman, but quit after some time because he failed at that as well. Einstein did his best at the time, only to go on to great things.
I love you
Three simple words can automatically turn the darkest of moments into a bonding and calming moment. Telling your child you love them is more important to them (and to you) than what toys you buy them, what computer games you let them play or even what sports game they watch or play. Letting them know you love them verbally, saying the actual words out loud, release oxytocin in you and them. Oxytocin is a hormone released during hugs too. It is the hormone released during childbirth, signalling to the new baby that mum is their caregiver, their nurturer. In later life, it is the hormone that can override fears, dark thoughts and pain. Oxytocin is needed as a vital neuropeptide. It allows the brain to relax and immediately decreases stress.
Be yourself, the people will change around you
No two people’s experience in life will ever be the same. You can try all you like to have the same friends, colleagues or classmates forever but that’s just not feasible in what is now a global community. Very few people now live in small villages surrounded by the same people for a lifetime. Our kids are subject to technology, remote classrooms, remote workplaces and ever changing communities. With these contact changes, comes constant flexing of community values, of physical and social adaptations. Your kids need to hear you say that they need to stay true to themselves. Being yourself means that you do, say and act on what is important to you. The kids next door will have their own experience of life, this could be similar to your kids’ but it could also be vastly different for a myriad of reasons. The people around us change constantly, we ‘outgrow’ some, we purposefully distance from others or we gravitate to others. Being yourself is the most valuable life lesson you can teach your kids.
I’m proud of you
No matter what happened in your day, no matter the highs or lows, your kids need to know that they have your support. Letting them know you are proud of them is reassuring. The resilience we crave our kids to have stems from knowing that we are proud of them. In the animal kingdom, we see this expressed often. Next time you head to the zoo, watch the gorillas (they share 95% of our DNA). Even though the youngsters will find themselves being reprimanded by the adults, they will also receive a stroke on the arm, a cuddle from mum or aunty or even a grunt from dad. This is the adult gorilla telling the youngster that the are proud of them. Then watch the youngster forage for food with more gusto, climb a log with purpose or even stand up to other young gorillas in the troop. Your kids need to hear that you are proud of them.
Be clear on what you value
Many of us coast through life with little purpose. We end up in jobs we don’t like or partnerships that we end up leaving. Kids mirror these outcomes more often than not. A valuable lesson in life and something that starts with letting them know verbally is to be clear on hat you value. In results-based coaching we have a number of modalities to find what this means to us. We use the Values Track and check our values alignment. We look at our core beliefs and we delve into the seven core shadow values. This kind of coaching is beneficial to all but you can start at home with your kids. Find out what it is they value, discuss it as a family or even in a buddy-system within the family. Let the kids know that being clear on what they value will help them in any situation to make decisions that are right for them.
Love starts with loving yourself
Have you ever heard the expression ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’? This expression is as old as time and extremely accurate. You cannot give or receive love unless you start with yourself. To overcome fear, internal stress and emotional pain, you need love. This love starts with you. Loving yourself creates a bond with the one person in the world who will always be there for you: YOU! Teaching your kids and actually telling them about this will help support their limbic (emotional) brain, help secure or nurture the reptilian brain (the part of the brain that seeks pleasure or runs from pain, determining what in life is a threat or a danger) and the neocortex, responsible for higher-order brain functions such as sensory perception, cognition, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning and language. Just know that loving yourself starts with true self worth and can help all three areas of the brain with their tasks and functions and result in better choices, decisions and actions for life.
No problem is too embarrassing, I’m here to help
The 7th important thing your kids need to hear you say is that no problem is too embarrassing and that you are here to help. No matter how much time you spend with your kids, what they need from you is acceptance instead of judgement. Just letting them know that you are in their corner can help them enormously. Shame and guilt in kids can be carried into adulthood. Even if you don’t like what they are telling you, listen to them, support them and help them through the situation. This will keep you all connected, no matter what your family circumstances.
By now, you are probably thinking ‘what if I don’t have much time with the kids to actually say the 7 things your kids need to hear?’ or ‘what if I can’t see my kids?’ Maybe there are other issues you face. The 7 things your kids need to hear you say will only take a few moments of your day but they will make a lifetime’s difference to them.
Even tell them in writing if your situation warrants it. Just let them know! A wise man once said
It’s not about getting it right, it’s about getting it started: ~Benjamin J Harvey
Try one or two of the seven and see what a difference that will make. Try to go for all the 7 things your kids need to hear if you can or build up slowly to them. Your kids will benefit from the experience as will you.
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