What Do Your Children Want?

If I look superficially at their lives I would see that children want, expensive shoes, jackets, sweaters, trips, popularity, more time with their friends, more technology, video’s, and video games. But, as I listen to children I see a different picture. They want relationships. Children today are disconnected in families and are hungry for relationships. They see parents as busy with little time for really hearing or seeing them and they begin to control their own experiences. They begin to lead their own lives, and no longer look for adults to lead them. While this is not exclusively true in all families, certainly this fits for a great number of children today. The divorce and remarriage experience creates detachment for children. The abuse and neglect statistics reflect why children don’t trust adult leading. Drug and alcohol impairment rates by adults all serve to focus on why children feel the need to take care of themselves. They often don’t believe parents have their security needs in mind. Parent interaction styles also disconnect children. Parents who talk to much, yet don’t act in support of what they say causes child detachment. Another problem style is when parents act in demanding ways without the child feeling loved or cared about by the one demanding of them.

When problems occur in children’s behavior, parents tend to increase discipline. While correction and consequences may need to take place, significant change in child behavior problems may reflect a need for an increase in the relationship.

Keys to connection with children:

Affirmation - Tuning in and joining their emotional state. Laughing with them when they are happy, feeling sad with and for them when they are sad. Creating a sense of empathy (being able to put yourself emotionally in their shoes when they feel various emotional states – joining them there about their feelings. Don’t explain away their feelings, or deny them, admit that they feel however they feel and care that they feel that way. This will help them feel important to you and care about opening their life to you.

Acceptance – to know that they are loveable and loved by you even if they blow it or make a mistake.

Realness – They don’t want excuses or explanations they want parents who are real. If parents make a mistake that they admit it. If parents hurt their child’s feelings, that they be a part of the repair and ask for forgiveness and mean it. It’s difficult to call your child to a higher standard then you live before them.

Appreciation – Show your child how valuable and unique they are. Be specific about why you believe that.

Nurturing and affection – Children need to be touched and looked at innocently. To be interacted with playful/healthy touch. If this wasn’t provided for you as a child, start a new tradition.

Make yourself available – Give your children time. Time that is unhurried, focused, and truly shares the relationship. Focused time together may have the potential for creating memories.

Correction – If we put the relationship first, correction will be understood as a consequence of their misbehavior. Correction without relationship produces rebellion. Correction as a part of the relationship creates discipline within the child.

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