Everywhere you look is the message, think positively, be happy and it is continually being drummed down your throat. Be grateful everyone says, but how you ask can you can you motivate yourself to feel positively about your kids when they won’t listen, won’t clean up after themselves, argue with you at every opportunity, are resolutely trying to drive you crazy and just seem damn ungrateful for all that you do.
The answer, you build a love map that is what you do. You create a picture of your child that is so much larger than the negative behaviours they display, you learn to understand who they are, you connect, and you hang out with them. You notice what you like about them and you discover how incredible these little humans that you created truly are.
Three key steps to build your love map for your child
1. Find out who your child really is
Most parents see their kids each day, they observe them interact with siblings and friends; watch them go about their ordinary lives. You might even be nurturing the child in front of you with pre-conceived ideas and notions of your children’s hopes and dreams, never considering what your child might want..
My question to you is this…. Do you know what your child yearns for, what they want to be when they grow up – which friends make them feel good and which ones make them sad? Do you know whom they dream about marrying, what they wish for, how they would prefer to act rather than the way that they do? What is their favourite movie and who is their favourite hero and why them? Do you know what they fear, what worries them? Are you taking the time to determine what is important to them or do you assume you know?
When you build a love map, you discover who they are. Until you know and understand what drives your child, what they imagine they will be, who they strive to be like, you will probably only see them as your child, not as an individual with goals and dreams that you can support and nurture.
When you are able to comprehend what makes them happy and what makes them sad, you will see what motivates their actions and perhaps find the real person behind the child you see before you every day.
Hint: Ask them what you want to know, expose your hopes, your dreams and your fears show them that you too are real.
Let them know you are open to discussing all things with them and value that they have an opinion different from yours and you want to know all about it.
2. Make the effort to spend real time with your child
Not every moment with your child needs to be about – what has to be done, a learning opportunity, telling them what to do, checking in on life’s responsibilities.
It is time to love the life you live, devote time you have with your child to laughing, being silly, watching a TV program together, discussing world issues, enjoying hobbies. Focus, focus focus on your combined enjoyment. In a nutshell, have FUN together!
Invite your child to learn about your passions. If they show no interest, explore theirs. It will bring you closer to seeing your child in a new light; you’ll be amazed and surprised by how infectious their excitement is. Permit yourself to learn what makes them tick.
When you show an interest in what is important to them, you encourage them to invite you again and again.
Hint “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” Barbara Johnson. Where possible, try to connect when they want to, but if it’s not possible, let them know you’ll talk later and be sure to keep your word saying,” Let’s talk now, sorry I couldn’t do it earlier” – Prove you are interested by acting interested.
3. Notice and acknowledge all the good that you see
A portfolio is one of the greatest things you can give your child. Do you remember a time when someone told you that you did something really well, were kind to a neighbour, answered politely, showed your tenacity in solving a problem, were caring when you included a new friend, disagreed respectfully? Do you recall how what they said, made you stand just a few inches taller?
By noticing, acknowledging and praising the wonderful things your child does, you help build their portfolio of themselves. Be specific when you talk to them. Let them know what you can see them doing well and what qualities they are displaying. “I love the way you helped grandma in the kitchen, you are so considerate and helpful.”
When you notice their good side, and build their portfolio, it encourages them to keep displaying wonderful characteristics. Catch them doing good and they will keep doing it.
Hint: Be honest at all times, be open to seeing the good and even if it is a tiny action, respond to their positive effort, thereby encouraging them to do more.
What will you do to connect with your child today? Do it now, do it because you love your child!
The Parenting On Purpose Program helps shine a bright light on your kids, focusing your eyes on the incredible little person in your world. Find out more here