TalkBack To Vicki Jardine

A TalkBack on Parenting Issues

Fathers! Are Your Kids Sure You Love Them? June 12, 2009

Father's DayThis week I was fortunate enough to witness a father’s love for his child and how that love inspired the child to achieve more than ever before.  How beautiful to see the look of security and self-pride in the eyes of this child as his father gave gentle and loving encouragement, believing wholeheartedly in the child.  It was not a case of an amazing feat of fatherly love like that of Dick Hoyt to his son Rick.  (If you haven’t seen the tribute to Rick and Dick Hoyt, just go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flRvsO8m_KI and watch this inspirational video).  But this is not the kind of fatherly act I am talking about today. 

Today, I want to focus on the importance of ‘fathers’ to their children and the small and seemingly insignificant acts of love and encouragement a father can give to his child.

From speaking with so many parents over the years, it is evident that many, many mothers and fathers completely underestimate the importance of the father’s role as parent.  It’s like possessing the most effective tool and shoving into a cupboard and never using it.  Then wondering why the task is so difficult.

Most fathers do love their children.  That is true.

But if that is true, then why is it that when you ask children do they believe their father loves them, many, (and I mean too many), will answer no?

 This perception of not being loved by their father has such far-reaching effects on the development of the child.   Nothing else can replace it for the child.  Not the extra love of a mother, or even grandparents. 

So if fathers do love their children, then why do so many children think that they don’t?

This is what I want to address today as we approach Father’s Day in the USA. 

You have most probably heard that a person’s perception of a situation is ‘their reality’.  Well, so it is for children.  A father may love their child immensely, but if that child cannot perceive that love, then that child’s reality is that their father does not love them.

So let’s just assume that the love exists.  So now, how can fathers ensure that their children are able to detect that love, find evidence of that love and perceive that love.  How can a father convey their love to their children in ways that really make a difference to the child and how they see themselves. 

Well, here’s some things for fathers to remember, why it is so important and how you can take various opportunities to demonstrate your love for your child:

  1. Your child’s world is dominated by how he thinks you see him/her.

Children formulate ideas about who they are, based on the feedback that they get from you.  They look to you to understand what kind of person, they themselves are. 

What to do:

  • Give your child feedback that is positive.  Look for the positive.  Too often they get to hear what they have done wrong. 
  • Tell them what you like about them. 
  • Tell them the ways in which they remind you of yourself at their age. 
  • Tell them the ways in which they remind you of their mother (in a good way). 
  • Tell them when you feel pride in them.  Emphasize that you are proud of their efforts…not only their achievements.
  • In your child’s presence boast about them to other people.
  1. Your child will do a lot of things to have your approval.

If you make it very clear to a child when you are happy with them and why, they will feel very good.  They will be motivated to get that ‘good feeling’ all the time.  This is such a powerful tool that you can use to help your child to mature confidently, because when a child is praised and recognized they will internalize that good feeling and they will begin to strive against their desire to play all the time, to actually do the things that you want them to. 

What to do:

  • Decide what you expect from your child. 
  • Be aware of your own expectations, so you can communicate them clearly to your child. 
  • Then when there is anything at all to praise…PRAISE it. 
  • Notice if they do something right.  Let them know you noticed.  If it’s a big deal, you can reward it even.  
  • After you have established an environment where your child is aware of your expectations and can anticipate your approval, you don’t always have to find words.  Sometimes a thumbs up and a huge smile is enough.  A wink and a nod at the child when they are looking at you to see your reaction to their effort or achievement can be so powerful. 
  • You may not know this, but each thing that is quite small to you…it may simply be that you wanted your son to put his bike in a certain place every evening and he is not always diligent with this.  Well on the occasion that he does put it in the right place….he does so with a huge feeling of anticipation about how impressed you are going to be.  But sometimes we parents come home and see the bike in the correct place … and think…yes, that’s how it should be.  We miss the opportunity to appreciate that from the minute the child put the bike there, he is anticipating your positive reaction, recognition and approval.

OK, so you get the idea.

Here are some more things your child wants from their father and how you can help your child to perceive your love for them.

  • Look them in the eyes when you talk to them.
  • Let them know you like them
  • Don’t just hug them….cuddle them.  If you don’t know what that means, then that’s sad, so look it up.
  • Talk to them about yourself.  Talk about now and also when you were a boy and what you think about things. 
  • Talk about your feelings to your children.
  • Tell them how you feel about them.
  • Set a good example all the time because they are definitely going to model themselves on you…. and they are watching to see how you handle things, both good and bad.
  • Top up their emotional security every hour or so with a look, a pat, a hug, a simple ‘are you ok?’
  • Your child wants to be recognized by you for every little positive thing they do.

So Fathers this Father’s Day stop and notice how hungry your children are for your love.  Look into their eyes and down into the core of their being.  Remember the first time you ever saw them and how tiny and helpless they were.  Appreciate how important you are to them and how they need you to love them in ways that make them ‘feel loved’.

Read the messages your child writes to you on Father’s Day and have an emotion about it.  You need to let them see that they can move you emotionally. 

Fathers, your children need to know that they are as important to you…..as you are to them!

TalkBack to me.  Share your fathering experiences with other fathers.  Mothers too!  Is there anything you want Fathers to know about their kids?  Let’s get some discussion on this topic.

Here’s to your child’s happiness and security.

Warmest Wishes

Vicki Jardine

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How to Talk with Your Child, So that Your Child will Talk with You June 7, 2009

Talking to ParentsPractically every parent I speak to experiences the ‘after school shutdown’.  This is when you ask your child about their day only to get one-word answers.  You ask how their day was and you get …. ‘good’.  You ask what they studied and you get…. ‘nothing’.  After a couple of attempts to draw your child out into a conversation, you give up and everyone feels better.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Parents often ask me how they can establish open communication with their children.  So don’t think that you are the only one who experiences the ‘shutdown’.  And it’s not uncommon for parents to actually feel as though they don’t know their own children very well at all. 

Remember when they were little and you felt like you knew them very well?  Remember when they told you all their secrets?  Do you ever find yourself wondering who these little people ‘really are’ and what is actually happening in their lives? 

The subject of ‘communicating with children’ comes up a lot in coaching and emails that I receive.  It seems that most parents at one time or another struggle to keep the lines of communication with their children open.

Without getting into the reasons for this, today we’re just going to focus on positive things parents can do to create a family environment that encourages your children to open up and join in conversations and discussions.

 

 

When your son/daughter tells you something, try to open the subject up more by asking questions like:

  • Oh, that’s interesting! 
  • How did you feel when that happened?
  • What else did they say? 
  • Did anything else happen?
  • Wow, what was that like for you? 

If you can get your child to explain more then you can respond:

  • Ok, so now I understand.  You sure explained that to me well.
  • Hey, you sure know how to explain things. 
  • Wow, you’re a great story-teller. 

If your child draws a picture don’t just say ‘that’s nice’:

Wow, how did you get that (wavy, dotty, scratchy) effect?  

If your child does some writing at school, say a poem or a short story or a letter:

  • Hey can you make a copy of that for me, so I can always have it?
  • Wow, can I show my friends what you did?

 Of course, you have to tailor these questions to fit your family.  But you can get the idea.  What you are trying to achieve is to make your child feel that you find them a lot more interesting, clever and valuable than they ever suspect that they are.

You are taking steps to give courage to your child to keep putting their best foot forward and to know that you are their biggest supporter. 

Handling your Childs Fears, Failures and Fear of Failure:

Of course, you will also need to learn how to handle your child’s fears and failures.  Or even more devastating to the development of self-esteem, is your child’s fear of failure.   This fear can paralyse your son/daughter so they don’t even attempt things that they may perceive themselves as likely to fail. 

This is why it is essential to be building the relationship with your child in which you praise their effort and not only their achievement.  For even when a child feels their achievement is lacking, they will need to know that their effort is even more important and that you as a parent place extremely high emphasis on the effort, energy and commitment, your child puts into things.

Situations in which your child perceives themselves as having failed or at risk of failing require a lot more sensitivity from a parent. 

Here are some suggestions to help you talk with your child when their confidence is waning:

  • I know you didn’t get the result you were hoping for, but I have never been more proud of your effort.
  • I understand you are upset right now, but I was so proud of the way you went about that.
  • I can see you are disappointed.  I hope you realize that I am not.  I think it was amazing how you  ….. ( fill in the blank with a sincere comment about something that was commendable).

And last, but definitely not least, remember to share your own achievements and failures with your child (where appropriate).  Look for opportunities to say how certain achievements make you feel so proud.  Let them know that you felt fear or risk of failure, but how you faced up to it and now you’re glad you did.  Of course, don’t burden the child with the ins and outs of your adult life, but it never hurts to create dialogue and impart vocabulary so your child exists in an environment where family members share their efforts, achievements and failures with one another in a safe and supportive environment.

This is a starting place to create that environment.  Before you know it, you will be privy to much more information about your child, the realities of their world and their ups and downs than you ever thought possible.

I know many parents will have some amazing stories about how they turned their child’s lack of communication around.  We’d love to hear about how you did it. 

Talk back to me.

Warmest Wishes

Vicki Jardine