Compliment Them Often

You will never make someone’s day worse by handing them a compliment. A kind word can change our attitude in an instant and it’s a cheap and easy way to bring light to someone’s darkness. This holds true for strangers, coworkers, our spouse and children. Compliments should fall off our tongue more frequently, building those around us up when the world is trying to tear them down.

Our children are surrounded by ugliness. As much as we don’t want to believe it, there are bullies in their school, inappropriate shows on the television and disparaging videos on the internet. We have to make an effort to combat all that is attacking them from the outside. It’s our responsibility to build them up on the inside, reminding them they are worthy and loved.

Find ways to compliment your child often! Leave notes, send texts or be verbal; there are many options on how you can encourage and uplift. Bond with your child through positive encouragement, growing together in confidence and positive self-image.

Compliment your children with these words of affirmation…

You did an awesome job on that project!

I really like how you used your manners.

Thank you for your spirit of kindness.

You are so important to this family!

I am proud of you for the accomplishment of….

You make me laugh and bring joy to my days.

I love you!

You are so thoughtful!

I can tell that was difficult for you. Great job persevering!

Wow! You handled that situation with such maturity.

You are special!

I am so happy you’re my son/daughter.

It only takes but a few moments to set a compliment in motion yet the ripple effect lasts far longer. Begin bonding with your child early by making compliments a daily happening in your home.

Take Their Photo

My children could spend hours looking at the photographs on my phone. Sometimes I connect to the Apple TV and allow them to scroll across the screen. They will spend an incredible amount of time reminiscing about when the photo was taken and giggling at their silliness caught on camera.

Likewise, they are the first to notice when I change the photographs in the picture frames of our home. In all honesty, we don’t have many photographs out and about because my young children change very quickly and I simply can’t keep up with constantly changing the pictures! The photographs we do have displayed are those of significance that we choose not to change. They remain steadfast as a memento of that special day or time.

Children love to look at photographs of themselves and those they love. They love to feel important enough to have a display on a shelf or wall in your home. Children feel bonded to you and their family when their photographs are prominently displayed in the home. More so, children feel accepted and part of the family unit when they are present in group photos.

This may seem like common sense. You take a family photograph and, of course, all of your children are present in the picture. In the case of foster or adopted children, however, it is important to ensure they are included as well.

When a new child enters your home, take their picture and put them on a shelf. If they’ve been with you for a length of time, include them in your group photographs and display them for visitors to see. Likewise, allow a child to display pictures of them with people they love in their special space (ie: a bedroom). Allowing children to be a visible part of the family unit while simultaneously giving them the freedom to remember the others in their family, you are creating an atmosphere of acceptance and love.

Taking your child’s photograph captures moments too soon forgotten and encourages bonding. Whether foster, adopted or biological, all children are empowered by feeling a part of the family through photograph and picture displays.

Show Affection

We have recently been studying the five love languages in our Sunday School class. We’ve discussed words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. I’ve connected with all of them on different levels with the least being physical touch. I simply am not a touchy kind of gal.

I blame the fact that I had four small children and spent days being constantly touched, climbed on and pulled in multiple directions. I like my personal space and I don’t prefer my personal bubble to be breached. It’s tricky at times to have the least of your love languages be physical touch. It’s a conscious effort to ensure I am not neglecting this language in those I love.

Although I would rather be left alone, I make sure to hold my husband’s hand and offer many kisses goodbye. I make sure to pat my child’s head as I pass, give extra squeezes and kisses goodnight. Even though they don’t fill my love tank much, it doesn’t mean those actions don’t fill theirs.

Show affection to your children. Sometimes the smallest gestures can leave the biggest impact. Squeeze their shoulder as you walk by and nonverbally remind them you are there. Kiss them goodbye in the morning and goodnight in the evening giving them the reassurance of your love.

In the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, he discusses the power of physical touch on communicating love. This stands true in our friendships, marriages and with our children. The connection made with a physical embrace, pat on the shoulder or handshake conveys a message to the recipient. A message of support, compassion, strength and love.

In a home with foster children it can sometimes be tricky to walk the fine line of this love language. We want to give the physical reassurance to the children in our case, but we also want to respect personal boundaries and avoid any triggers. Physical touch can be as emotionally damaging as it is rewarding. So although the majority of the time it is surrounded with positive intent and leaves a loving impression, that is not always the case.

You know your children, and the children in your home, and should act according to their history and needs. In the correct context, and used appropriately, physical touch is a bonding mechanism that supports relationships and emotional health.

Eat Meals Together

Honestly, after working all day and surviving the tedious task of homework, I dread cooking dinner. My children are picky eaters and it’s exhausting to plan and execute a menu that everyone is happy with. Over the years, I’ve found a small list of recipes that will please the whole mass of my family, but it is still a daily struggle. A struggle that I often would rather win by throwing some cereal at my kids and calling it a day.

The struggle is real! If I had an unlimited budget we would eat out every day for dinner, enjoying each others company over a meal I did not have to make. Unfortunately, I don’t have an unlimited budget and that’s not realistic.

Even with as much as I despise cooking, I understand the importance of having a meal together as a family. Mealtime is an opportunity for undivided attention, open communication and bonding. Mealtime conversations are a long lost art in many households.

Make eating together a priority. It can become difficult as life happens, but not impossible. Ball practices, after school activities, dance lessons and many other things wiggle their way into our schedule – do not allow it to be at the expense of your family!

Pack a picnic and take it to the ball field, eating as a family before the game begins or start your day early and have breakfast together. You can make it work in your home. By making it a priority to eat together, you are making time with your family a priority.

You are showing your children they are a priority.

Enjoy your meals together discussing your day, praising the successes and working through the troubles. If we don’t make time to speak to our children about their day, who are they talking to and where are they getting their advice? Meal time is the prime opportunity to receive insight into your child’s day, their life, thoughts and feelings.

Bond with your child over spaghetti, donuts, pizza or ice-cream. Food is a universal language so use it to open the doors of communication.

Keep Calm

I have admitted before that I am a yeller. I tend to maintain my cool very well until suddenly I don’t. When I have reached the end of my patience it comes out in the form of an angry mama bear growling for the neighbors to hear. There have probably been times the neighbors have jumped up to clean their rooms because they heard me shout it for the thirtieth time.

It’s not something I’m proud of nor boasting about. It’s simply something I am.

I struggle keeping calm at times even knowing how imperative it is to my children, my sanity and the overall atmosphere of my home. Keeping calm sets a standard in our home that we strive to maintain. A standard of peace and safety.

The last thing I ever want my children to feel is unsafe in their own home. I’d venture to guess you agree. As parents, one of our top priorities is ensuring the safety of our children. How devastating to think we could be jeopardizing that by losing our cool.

Employ strategies to help you maintain your cool in times of struggle. Deep breathe, walk away, take a bath, eat a cookie – whatever you need to do is OK if it means stopping long enough to think before you speak, breath before you yell.

Our children are learning from us every moment of every day and quite honestly, that’s a scary thought at times. I want my children to learn grace, love, forgiveness, kindness and a litany of other positive attributes from me. I don’t want them to learn how to yell.

It’s a daily struggle and likely will continue to be, but it’s a struggle worth combatting. Bond with your children by keeping your cool, showing them the grace, love and kindness you want them to exhibit.

Bond with your children by being transparent and honest when you don’t do such a great job at it. Apologize for losing your cool and talk about what you will do next time to keep it from happening. Show them your imperfections so they will be less afraid of theirs.

Keeping our calm is not only a more healthy approach to parenting for both you and your children, but it is an approach that will allow appropriate bonding. You won’t succeed every day, but you will make a difference when you do. 

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