The way we treat our children directly impacts what they believe about themselves. Having respectful interactions with our children is not only important, it is at the heart of raising respectful kids.
Respectful Parents Raise Respectful Kids
Most parents would like to raise respectful, caring cooperative kids. But so often we end up modeling disrespect. When children misbehave, we often correct them with harsh words “HEY, don’t you dare do that” or “That’s NOT going to fly with me.” Other times, our child comes to us, bounding with energy, ready to share a big idea and often what they get in return are words that shut down the creativity and conversation “GO AWAY, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY?”
Research on family interactions and learning shows that 95% of what children remember and learn is based heavily on social interactions. Children don’t learn just from the words you use. Instead, like a puzzle, children piece together your words and actions and how this makes them feel into a either a positive or negative experience. The way we treat our children directly impacts what they believe about themselves. If we want our children to be respectful and attentive, we must help them feel this way.
Your caring, respectful presence makes a difference
Our children come to us with fables, ideas and opinions because they are trusting us with important thoughts! Words like “not now, I’m too busy” and “I don’t care” can send a really powerful message to children that their ideas don’t matter which they may interpret as “I don’t matter”.
Yes, some days are long, we are busy and it’s normal and alright to not be interested in every little ramble, opinion or fantasy from our children. Yet, we can use words and manners that show our children that they do matter to us, that we value their ideas. Even if we are a bit busy and short on time it’s important to make an effort to be present. In doing so, you are actively modeling respectful interactions.
Some helpful alternatives to “I’m too busy” might sound like
- please wait a minute
- thank you for your patience
- just a minute, I’m almost done
- I’ll be right with you!
- This isn’t a good time, but I can listen to you later. How about you set a 10 minute timer and tell me when it rings?
- You have so many ideas, I can hardly wait until I finish my work so I can hear all about it!
- I’m wrapped up in my work right now, can you make a picture about that and we can look at it together when we are both done?
Maybe we even interrupt whatever it is we are so very busy with and just take one to five minutes to enjoy the precious moment our child wants to share with us. It’s often worth it, well worth it!!
Did you know my five year old would like to be an astronaut chef for aliens that have no money to buy food one day? I didn’t either until I took a quick break from reading the other day. Apparently my five year old would like to help those less fortunate than him, in space no less. As his mom of course I find this to be kind of a cool idea. I almost missed it because I was very busy when he wanted to tell me about it. But I paused, because I know these silly stories will soon fade as he grows. What shouldn’t fade is our child’s desire to talk to us. To share their needs and wants. These are the foundation of a trusting relationship.
Relationship means influence. Influence allows us to offer children positive and necessary guidance.
Feeding aliens aside, our interactions matter. The way we chose to respond to our children, does create a life long model of how to be respectful and caring. What kinds of interactions are you modeling?
Peace & Be Well,
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