I remember when my oldest son was born, my first thought was, “Wow, I really hope I do a terrible job as a parent.” Wait, that is not right. Of course, my first thought was more like, “Will I be a good parent?” As parents, we want to be there for our kids. We want them to grow up well-adjusted and empowered to change the world. However, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to do that.
For 2021, as we continue to adjust to a world with COVID-19, digital schooling, fewer social interactions, and more time with our kids, I want to offer a series on how to parent for more effect. As a parent, I know I want my kids to thrive more than survive. So, how do I have more effect in raising my kids? Part of the answer is to impart skills and help them implement those skills.
Today’s skill: Our Words. There are many words we teach our kids. Some we do intentionally like “thank you,” “yes sir/ma’am,” and (hopefully) “no.” Some we do unintentionally (I am not going to print those words because they may not be family-friendly). However, there may be words we do not impart. These words are those that express feelings. The six words that I want you to impart to your kids are frustrated, sad, excited, anxious, disappointed, and hopeful. These are important words that kids need to be able to use. Find intentional time to help explain these and give some examples (ex. “Remember the other night when you thought you could have a cookie after dinner, but we said no? Well, that is what frustrated means.”) Imparting these words with examples will allow them to communicate to you in ways that get at what the real struggles are. This is what opens the door to thriving.
And yet it is not enough to just impart these words, we have to implement them. To do that, keep the words in common usage. Use them yourself (ex. “I am disappointed that it is raining today, I really wanted us to go for a family walk” or “I am hopeful we will be able to have a vacation trip this summer”). As our children see us implementing these words, it opens the door for them to also implement these words. By being able to express these feelings, we create stronger communication and bonds with our kids. We limit exacerbated feelings and misunderstandings. We can deal with problems quicker and more effectively. Imparting and implementing these six words is step one to parenting with more effect.