Imagine that you have been invited to a friend’s home for dinner. Your friend welcomes you at the door. and you step inside.
Suddenly, your host shouts, “What is the matter with you! Your shoes are all muddy and you’re getting my carpet dirty!”
Embarrassed, you mumble, “Sorry” and remove your shoes.
As you do, you notice the hole in your sock, and so does your friend, who announces, “Geez. Don’t you think you could have dressed properly for dinner? You look like a slob.” As you take your place at the table, your host knocks your elbow off the table with a whispered “tsk, tsk.”
by Elizabeth Pantley, from Perfect Parenting: The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips
The dinner conversation is primarily your friend’s story about a guest that joined them for dinner last night who had lovely manners and no holes in her socks. The story is sprinkled with your friend’s occasional corrections to your table manners.
When you finish your meal, you stand up, only to hear your friend say, “It sure would be nice if somebody helped clear the table.”
I’m sure you get my drift by now. Many parents treat their children in ways that they would never treat a friend. In their efforts to raise respectable children, they become so focused on the end goal that they don’t realize that the primary message coming though to their children is not a pleasant one.
Take a close look at your daily interactions with your children. Make sure that the primary message to them is, “I love you, I trust you, and I respect you.” Children who are confident that they loved, trusted and respected by the important adults in their lives will respond overall in a much more pleasant way.
Building a foundation of love
How do you get this message through to your children?
First, by giving them what they want most from you – your time. It’s much more effective to give small chunks of time every day than to try to pack in a “quality” experience once a month.
Second, give them your ear. Children thrive when they have someone who really listens to them. It’s not as important to give advice and solve problems as it is to just plain listen.
Third, praise and encourage your children daily. Look for reasons, both big and small, to give your children positive feedback.
Fourth, tell them you love them. Tell them you trust them. Tell them you respect them. Use your words, and your actions to convey this most important message of all, “I love you, I trust you, and I respect you.”
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