True connection is honest communication not by creating a façade. Express so that children feel their importance in the family. Don’t seclude them from your being human.
My mummy best, my papa best…..what kind of image does your little one have of you? Best, great, powerful, unbeatable, invincible, courageous, brave et al. Your children hold you in awe. Mostly you are a picture of God to them. Now do you really think that you need to add to your image? Isn’t this already so wonderful? Then why do we keep on adding superficial layers onto this image? Why do we need to put on the masks? Why can’t we be true and honest with our children?
How many times you have been disturbed or stressed or feeling down but you have shown your child a smiling face? How many times have you put on an aura of OK-ness in front of your child while things were not OK with you? How many times have you committed to your child that you have done mistake? How many times have you felt liked crying and have actually cried even if your child is there? How many times have you been NOT OK and honestly asked for their understanding?
Suppose you had a bad day at office and were to go and tell your child how you had a terrible day and what happened and how you are feeling down and how you need their SUPPORT!
There are three wonderful things you are doing:
- Most prominent is, you are telling them how IMPORTANT they are in your life. Imagine YOU seeking THEIR support – wow! What self esteem you are building.
- You are teaching them, by sheer example, to share their own feelings with you. So important for teens or when they turn teen. You become pals, partners!
- The child understands that it is fine to be disturbed, stressed, down, make mistakes etc.– which we humans go through all this in our life.
The child does not live in make believe world of “invincibility”. They learn to take the “downs” in stride. This is a great lesson imbibed at the right age. Do not brush them as too-young-to-handle-these-kinds-of-things. The more reality they face, tougher they would become from inside and more emotionally balanced. Not just tougher, but more understanding of people around them. More they will reach out to make your place in this world a truly wonderful one.
Expressing one’s feelings to children is also a great way of communicating with them regarding their own problems. Instead of getting into threatening, commanding, blaming, lecturing and above all comparing. If we were to tell our children exactly how their actions make us feel, possibly they would respect that (for would they want their own feelings respected in return!
So instead of “Drink your milk otherwise no TV today”, try “I FEEL really CONCERNED about your health when you don’t drink milk. It makes me stressed up.” Instead of “You are hopeless, can never keep your room clean” try “The sight of your room makes me upset and angry” Just express what feelings the kid’s behavior brings to you. If you respect their feelings, chances are they will respect yours. It’s a mutually rewarding cycle. Also this is a beautiful way of giving feedback.
If you name-call, threaten, command etc them – they can CHALLENGE YOU or FEEL BAD about it: “Who are you to call me ‘hopeless’ or “Why she has to threaten me for milk” But please note they cannot challenge how YOU FEEL – after all they are your feelings and you have right over them!
Caution – please do not expect miracles with the above approaches.
The idea is not to get results in a day. The idea is to express our feelings to our children sincerely. And understand their feelings. The resulting empathy would make an amazing difference in the long run (we have a long way to go!).
By Ratnesh & Aditi Mathur