Have Open Communication

In my profession, I pride myself on open communication. I stress to parents on a regular basis that my office is always open and I encourage them to come to me with concerns, praises or questions. I want them to know that what they have to say is heard and they are respected. Likewise, I demonstrate open communication in relaying information. I want them to know their time is valued, their children are a top priority and their input is important.

Should I not encourage and expect the same in my own home? I want my children to feel welcome and safe in coming to me about anything. Nothing is off limits in open communication and although there are some hard topics that may find their way into the conversation, I want my children to know I will listen respectfully and respond accordingly.

Even at the youngest of ages, it is imperative that we practice open communication with our children. They deserve the respect of knowing what is going on (age appropriately) and the comfort of being able to speak their mind and ask their questions.

Maintaining open communication encourages a bond by reinforcing trust and respect, two vital components of any relationships. This doesn’t have to look super professional, but rather super relational.

Open communication is simply the desire to speak freely and be heard in the context of a loving, supportive relationship. We expect this in the other relationships of our life so why not embrace it with our children as well?

Surround Them With a Tribe

We were made to be social creatures. We were made to have friends, build relationships, rely on and support one another. As an adult, I thrive when I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with ‘my people’. The people who understand me, recognize my gifts, use and support them and love me through my trials and upsets. ‘My tribe’ is a lifeline on this crazy ride called life.

Children are no different. Have you ever noticed how your child has a new best friend every other day? They are desperately trying to build their tribe, find their people to build relationships with. They may not understand this is what they are doing at their young age, but I believe it all stems back to their innate desire to be in relationship with other people.

We have to help our children with this task. We have to surround them with a ‘tribe’, with people who love them, support and encourage them. As parents, it is our duty to foster positive relationships showing our children their importance and worth.

Sometimes the people we need to welcome into our tribe are professionals. Counselors, teachers and even doctors are imperative members who support us in different ways. Each of these people have a specific job in helping us, and our children, flourish and grow into emotionally stable and healthy individuals.

If we don’t encourage relationships when they are young, our children will be incapable of making them as they age. Bond with your children through the process of building a tribe of meaningful peers, a support system.

Empowering our children now to make wise choices in who they surround themselves with will encourage them to do the same later in life.   

Leave Them Love Notes

Yesterday I accomplished the mighty task of cleaning the children’s lunch boxes. We’ve been in school for almost two months and it’s been on my to-do list for several weeks, but I just got around to it yesterday. The squished grape stains and cracker crumbs were making me crazy so I emptied them out and tossed them in the washer.

In the process, I found a napkin note from the first day of school shoved into the little pocket. I don’t put notes in my children’s lunch boxes often enough, but I do always leave a “Happy First Day of School” note. It clearly held value as three of the four have kept it for almost two months. 

There is a child at my preschool who has a knock knock joke in his lunch box every day. Every day he excitedly shouts, “what does it say Ms. Angela?” and he, without fail, has a huge grin on his face.

How long did it take to write that happy first day of school note or knock knock joke? Not long at all, but it left a far longer lasting impression on the children. It’s easy to take a few moments of your day to write your child a love note. By leaving tangible reminders in the form of love notes, you are reminding your child they are important. They are loved.

Reminding our children of our love is an important and never-ending task. Whether tangibly or through actions, we can make several attempts daily. Bond with your child through love notes, spreading joy with your words.

Whether your notes proclaim how special your child is or offer a silly joke, they will elicit a smile and a lasting impression.

Maintain Routines

I am a creature of habit. This is a great and a not so great trait in equal parts. It is great because my children, especially my son with special needs, thrives on routine. Him knowing what is happening and how it’s going to happen saves us from a lot of meltdowns. On the flip side, if our routine changes, it can cause devastation.

Routines however allow our children to feel comfortable in their world. When so much is out of their control, it is reassuring to them to know what to expect. By maintaining a routine (as much as possible) we are reiterating to our children that we are reliable and can be trusted.

People, especially children, bond with those whom they can trust. When someone says they are going to do something and they do it, a bond is formed through that trust. When it continues to happen, the bond strengthens and grows..

Let’s be realistic though, we are not always able to maintain our routine. A wrench is thrown into your day when someone gets sick or there is an emergency meeting at work. Life happens. We all know and understand that, but we can help alleviate the confusion for our children by communicating openly. When you are aware that the typical day will be altered, let them know. Give your children a heads up when there is a change of plans allowing them to mentally prepare for the difference.

I appreciate this as an adult so why would a child not also appreciate it? I don’t prefer to have a meeting sprung upon me in the last hour of my work day and I don’t want to have to cook dinner if we were planning on going out. If I have time to mentally prepare and change my plans, though, the disappointment and stress is much less powerful.

Allow for bonding moments with your children by maintaining routines as much as possible. This will make not only your life run more smoothly, but will ease your children’s stress.

Try New Things Together

I want my children to have a spirit of adventure, a desire to try new things. I want to show them that it’s ok to be afraid, but we can persevere and do it any way!

This past Labor Day we went to family camp at our local YMCA. Aside from being tortuously hot, it presented many opportunities to try new things together. We were camping for the first time and yes, we were in a cabin, but it was far from the cabins we were used to. My family is a camp in a cabin with beds, air conditioning and television; the YMCA cabin had only beds…

It was an adventure and we were able to try so many awesome activities from zip lining to horse back riding to gaga ball and archery. The moments that stick out the most though were when we did something new together, faced fears together. For example, there was a rope bridge called the Burma Bridge. It was tricky and looked scary, but the children completed it by cheering one another on. My daughter did say “I may pee my pants!” at one point, but she completed the bridge while staying dry!

Fear can disable us if we let it. We must be a constant example and reminder to our children that their fear does not control them. By doing new things with your children, you are bonding with them through memory making and a sense of accomplishment.

All new things do not have to be scary or a big production, either. Regardless of how extreme they may be, experiencing these things together joins you and your child in an unbreakable bond, a memory.

When you do new things together, you are decreasing the trepidation that comes with trying new things. It can be scary to do something you’ve never done before, but it is significantly less scary when you’re doing it with someone you love.

Bond with your child today by facing a fear or new challenge. Tackle a new activity with joy and make memories that will encourage your child in facing a new challenge in the future.

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