Number One – To Know They Are Loved. This forms the basis for a child’s sense of self. They need to be both told and shown they are loved. You cannot overdo this one.
Sometimes men will tell me saying I love you to their child is something they are not comfortable doing. Usually their line is, “My dad never did it to me, so it doesn’t feel natural for me to do it to my child.” Or a parent will talk about how their parents were not “huggy, touchy” people, so it’s hard for them to do it.
Can I say right here, “Get over yourself”? One of the most basic traits of humans is that we can change. You can learn how to hug your child, to tell them you love them. It just takes effort and practice.
Demonstrations of love between parents and children help children growth in every area of life – emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Especially in the midst of a divorce the parents need to remind their child that they are loved. It is often a scary time for children. Be sure you tell them, “I will always be your father. Your mother will always be your mother. We will always love you. It’s just that we won’t be husband and wife.”
Your displays of love toward your child are the refreshing rain that encourages them to sink their roots into the nutrient-rich soil that you surround them with.
Number Two – Consistency. Children need to know what is expected of them. It’s what helps them navigate through life with a sense of confidence. One reason they are always testing the limits, pushing the boundaries is to know if it will be safe or dangerous. They want to find out if those expectations are solid or if they are like paper mache.
When you have to tell your child six times to do the same thing, you are creating your own monster. At birth I was given a first, middle and last name. It wasn’t until I was a child that I knew why I had three names. It was so I could tell when mama was serious! If I was outside playing with friends and she called out the back door, “David, time to come in for supper,” I would ignore her. A few minutes later she would again stick her head outside the back door, but this time would say, “David Andrew, it’s time to come in.” Again, I knew I could ignore that one, too. But when she stood on the back porch and yelled, “David Andrew Johnson, get in here right now,” my feet couldn’t move fast enough to propel me home and past her into the kitchen.
Unintentionally my mother was training me to ignore her the first two times she called me. I knew there would be no consequences. But experience had shown me that if I dilly dallied when she called me by all three names, I would be given the opportunity to” fly around the airport” as she held onto me with one hand and spanked me with the other.
When the expectations regarding your child’s behavior are changed day to day or week to week, it will inevitably increase their anxiety level. And when a child’s anxiety is high it will erupt out of their mouth in hateful sounding language and/or in oppositional behavior.
Before you decided your child needs counseling for their behavior problems it would be worth your time to look in the mirror to see if you may be the contributing factor in the problem.
(Here is a great article I read on Why Are American Kids So Spoiled? It is a must read.)