How much do you love your kids? As my son turned 5 last week, I realized this for the millionth time: having a child was the greatest gift I have ever received in life.
Showing and teaching him the concept of unconditional love brings that incredible energy back not just to me, but everyone he knows, his future relationships, and his own children someday. Already at age 5, Elijah tells me constantly (and without cueing!) things like, “I love you Mommy!”, “I’m so happy we are together”, “I want to stay with you forever.” THIS is the magic of unconditional love. I promise you these tips work:
- Tell them how proud you are of them. For eating their dinner, for sitting in a restaurant quietly, for reading a book, for helping you cook, for painting a picture, for writing their name, for being good at school. You have so many options. Tell them a lot. Repeat: a lot. Knowing they are succeeding and making their parent(s) proud instills in them confidence and self-esteem that will take them through adulthood.
- Tell you love them (ALL THE TIME). I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many parents forget to do this on a regular basis. Not just at night-night time, because they will tune that out on some level as part of the routine. Tell them at completely random times, like when they are stirring the pancake batter, playing quietly, or snuggling up reading a book.
- Take them to church and/or spiritual gatherings. I cannot impress upon you enough the impact this has had already in my child. If you absolutely are anti-religion or church, please find a way to make a spiritual connection in other ways. Some ideas include: hiking in nature, watching the sunset, yoga, and meditation.
- Forgive quickly when they make mistakes. I know it’s hard when they spill grape juice on the carpet or break something you love, you want to yell and punish. But take a deep breath, realize that whatever it is, it is just…a thing. When you put it in the perspective of thing vs. life of your child, the anger dissipates almost instantly. If it doesn’t, take your own time out. As a single mom, this is tough with timing, but calmly tell your child that you need some quiet time, then grab a glass of wine or cup of tea and go meditate for 5 minutes-this also helps them understand that parents need break times too!
- Kiss them, hug them, and hold them close when they are hurt. Speak softly and stroke their hair or back to calm the crying. Let them know that when the chips are down, whether it’s a scratched knee or hurt feelings, you’ve got their back, and you aren’t going anywhere. That will stay with them forever.