When our kids are born, they are little pieces of perfection. We look at them and promise that they are going to have the perfect life, that we will be the perfect parent, that the life challenges we face, they won’t have to.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if it turned out that way?
We all have our challenges. Kids especially. It’s always been hard to be a kid with school, acne, braces, lost best friends, and that dreaded gym class. They don’t want us, but they need us.
5 Ways to Help Your Kids Thrive
#1 – Take the time to sit with them. Just be in their presence. So many of us spend our time running around, multi tasking. Our child is at the table, doing homework, and we are making phone calls, chopping vegetables, paying bills. Take a few minutes and sit next to your child. Share the silence. Kris did that one night. Her daughter was reading a book, and she joined her on the couch with her own book.
After a few minutes her daughter put down her book and told her mom about something that had happened at school that day. Kris shared that the interaction meant a lot to both of them and that she got just a little insight into her daughter’s life.
#2 – Listen to them. We like to think that we listen to our kids when they talk to us, but many of us do other things when they do so. Have you ever heard yourself say “uh huh” when your child pauses for reaction and realizes that you have no idea what they just said. When your child talks to you, stop what you are doing and pay attention. Even if it’s a frivolous story, you might get some nugget of information for future use.
#3 – Don’t be a helicopter parent. Children are going to make mistakes. They NEED to make mistakes. They NEED to learn how to do things on their own. If you are always hovering, picking up the pieces when they fall, they will never learn how to do it independently. J
ulie always tied her daughter’s shoes for her. Always. And then, on her daughter’s first day of school, Julie wasn’t there to tie them for her. Her daughter was crushed and didn’t want to go back to school the next day. Julie taught her daughter how to tie her own shoes that very night, and she happily went off to school the next day.
#4 – Be Positive. Yes, we have all had challenging life experiences, experiences that we don’t want our children to have. But no matter how hard we try, we can’t stop them from happening. When you see your child facing something that you faced and failed at, DON’T let your feelings of failure enter the conversation. Think about what you might have done differently and share it with them. Be positive.
#5 – Take care of their health. It is essential that all of us take care of ourselves, that we get enough sleep and exercise and eat a healthy diet. Many kids don’t get enough of the first two and too much of the last one (often not so healthy). When your kids become teenagers, it is very difficult to influence their lifestyle choices, so working hard in their early years is important to instill good habits.
Make sure they have a comfy bed and that they play outside after school. Limit their screen time. Have healthy food available but don’t make Oreos taboo. Kim’s kids had a steady diet of frozen pizza and French fries they consumed in front of the TV. Her kids were always bears at bed-time, which made the morning routine especially difficult. At my suggestion, she tweaked their diets, and they ate dinner together at the dinner table, and suddenly, bedtime was a dream, and the mornings were better too.
So there you go, 5 ways to help your kids thrive. None of these tips are reinventing the wheel, but they are often overlooked amid the chaos of everyday living. But you can do it. You are doing it already. Pay attention and tweak things here and there; you will see a huge difference.
Do you have any stories about ways you have helped your children thrive? Questions about challenges that regularly arise? I would love to hear from you, and we can find more ways to help your kids…
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.