Adults do three things all the time to express how we value the children in our lives. I’m working at these things. I want to be are good at them because, more than compliments, these actions form a foundation of trust.
1. We keep our mouths shut and let the kid answer questions for himself.
We try to avoid finishing sentences and filling in the blanks for a child in conversations. We don’t answer a question directed at the child, such as “No, Armando won’t like popcorn. He never likes popcorn!” Instead, if he is not answering for himself, we ask, “Armando, your friend’s mom wants to know if you want popcorn. Do you?”
2. We show kids that we highly value our own well-being.
Modeling self-care for a child is an important aspect of teaching what it means to be valued. Taking care of our healthcare, hygiene, psychological and emotional needs are all part of what it means to care for our own well-being. We tell them when we set appointments for ourselves.
We don’t devalue ourselves by minimizing pain. We don’t remain in situations where we’re abused, neglected or mistreated. Because watching their caregivers is how children learn how to care for themselves for the rest of their life.
3. We clarify rules around negative behavior, but still communicate value of the child.
We let children know that even if their behavior is unacceptable in a given situation, we still care about and love them no matter what. They need to hear this repeatedly. Deal with the mistakes, wrong decisions, errors in judgment: “You are a good child, but you did this wrong thing. How could you handle that differently next time?”If a child is learning she’s valued, she’ll be learning to make this distinction in her self-talk as well.
Three additional ways to bless children right now with actions that value them:
- When disagreeing with a child, allow the child to explain their point of view without giving a rebuttal.
- Express your confidence in the child: “I have confidence that you will figure out another way of handling this.”
- Make sure the child can overhear you saying something positive to a friend about the child.
Note: The concept of the blessing, along with some of the ideas to express a child’s high value are taken from John Trent’s book The Blessing.
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