We all want so much for our children. We hold our babies and instantly want to protect them from every disappointment and sadness. We want them to have the most perfect, happy and carefree life. All of us picture that life differently. Some people imagine that they will grow up, marry and have children. Some imagine successful careers in booming industries. We hope they will go places we didn’t and have success beyond ours. We set a path that we hope they will follow as we teach them about the values and traditions that matter to us.
Then, our children discover that they can function independently and are not a direct extension of us. They begin to come into their own. They behave in ways that we used to shake our heads about when we observed other people’s children. Young children have tantrums and challenge our patience as they refuse to do what we ask. Some children have a harder time than we’d hoped with reading or writing. They show no interest or talent in the activities we’ve loved. They do what they are supposed to do. They find their own likes, dislikes, interests and preferences. Parenthood becomes busy and complicated as we try to keep up with their growth, experimentation with new hobbies and ever changing moods. Too often, we don’t take time out to tell our children that we understand that they are finding their way and we love them. When we do express our affection, we should tell them what we love about them. We need to help them not only to complete homework, get to lessons and arrive on time for sports activities. We need to help them see their value so they develop a sense of self-worth.
This Thanksgiving, take time to celebrate the people your children are becoming. Instead of going around the table listing what things or people you are grateful for, name the traits that make them unique and endearing. Perhaps you are thankful for your child’s sense of humor or willingness to try new things. Perhaps you are grateful for how nicely your child gets along with others or shows love for a sibling. Be specific. Tell your children that you are glad not only for their existence but for the gifts they bring to the world.
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