In the urge to help and guide our kids in "the right" direction, we, the parents tend to focus on the wrong things. What do I mean by "focus on the wrong things"? Very often we are so focused on the grades, how good our kids are in sports, how many and what kind of extra activities they do, how do they compare to their peers, that we completely forget they are human beings with limits, feelings and needs! By doing so the only thing we achieve is add more stress to our children's already stressful life.
Of course we all want only the best for our kids! But the question all parents need to ask themselves is - is my "the best", also his / her "the best"? Am I focused on my "the best" or on his / her "the best"? A lot of parents have this idea of their child should become, and they would do anything for this to be achieved. Unfortunately along the way the parents forget extremely important aspect - and that is "what does my child want to become"! By trying to constantly meet and satisfy our expectations, the child is living a life that is not authentic......which in return results in more added stress for him / her.
So, how can we as parents, support our children without adding additional stress to their complicated life? I know that some of these are easier said than done, but I believe that parents should grow together with their kids......and this is the perfect opportunity:
- know your kids - from very young age, make sure you observe and listen to them! Observe how they play at home, what excites them, how they play with their peers, what are they telling you. For example our son is (or used to be) very careful with everything new - so we just let him develop at his own pace......it took him some time to dare to get on his bike, but now he absolutely loves it.
- spend time with your kids - when I say spend time with your kids, I mean quality time every single day. It doesn't need to be long, but the message you are sending to your child by spending quality time with them is that he/she is important to you, that you are there for them, that you are interested in what's happening in their life.
- listen to your kids - very often what happens is that as soon as our kids share something with us, we start giving advice and ideas on what they should do! We need to realize that it is not always important to share our opinion, but instead it is important to listen, to be there for our kids, and to ask the right questions.
- never judge - I know that this is hard, but try not to judge! Show (with actions) your child that he/she can always come to you no matter what the situation! Kids stress out about all kinds of things, so there is no need to add additional stress by judging them.
- never compare - we tend to think that by comparing them to their peers, this will motivate them! The only thing such a comparison accomplishes is resentment, shame and stress. Each child is different, they all develop at their own pace, each one has their own interest, and each one has their own set of strengths and weaknesses.
- accept them for who they are - again, each child is different and as parents it is our job to accept them as they are! Don't try to turn them into somebody they are not! And don't make them feel bad or ashamed that they are not something different.
- accept their interest and passion - they might be interested in completely different things that you think they should be interested! Don't try to push your agenda and what you expect or want their interests and passion to be! Accept them from the very beginning as a person and respect what they want. Only then they will be able to go after what they want 100%; only then they will be living happy and fulfilled life!
- don't punish them - the only thing punishment achieves is resentment! If for example your child is doing poorly in school, then try to understand together with your child what is the reason for this and how you can help them.
I am sure that the list is much longer, but at this point I want to share a great TED talk by Julie Lythcott-Haims (former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford). The talk focuses on "How to raise successful kids - without overparenting". Highly interesting talk, that is a must see for each parent!
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