We all know the infamous saying, “money doesn’t buy happiness, right?” As parents, we are constantly tempted to buy our kids anything and everything that they want under the sun – because it makes them happy, right?!? It’s important to stop, reflect, and really take a look at what we are buying our kids, what we are teaching them, and what it is that they really NEED!
What is the single most important thing we can give our kids? Ourselves – not just paying attention to them… Our ears, our hearts, our presence, our ability to be with them in this exact moment… Our willingness to stop everything we are doing and read 5 stories before bed, even though we think we only have “time” to read one… Our mindfulness of putting together a home cooked meal and eating it at the dinner table without other distractions… Our thoughtfulness of considering their opinions, hearing their voice, and empowering them to be the best they can be. THAT’s what our kids need from us. Our time and energy, which costs us absolutely nothing!
Still not exactly sure how to spend more time with your kids?
Heather Grocott, Director of The Children’s Workshop, shares some tips:
- Love: More important than anything else, children need your love. When children are loved, they develop self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, and a capacity to love others. Be sure to stop each day to show your child how much you love them.
- Attention: Children need your interest and attention. They need quality time with you and they need quantity time with you. The most valuable resource you have is your time, give some to a child everyday.
- Encouragement/Affirmation: Sometimes one simple word of appreciation can change an entire life. Make sure children know that you are proud of them often. Every chance you get, never withhold an encouraging word.
- Stability: A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.
- Opportunity: Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. They also need opportunities to grow in their interests. This relates to education, activity, food, and friends. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
- Discipline: Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.
- A good laugh: On average, children laugh 200 times per day while adults laugh only 15 to 18. Laughter is good for a child’s mental and physical health. Encourage joy and laughter. Tell jokes and silly stories. Laugh at their crazy escapades and yourself.
- Your lap: It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, a story, or a good conversation. And it’s been right in front of you this whole time.
- Spontaneity: Do something spontaneous and fun at least one time per month that is completely out of the ordinary with your kids – you will be sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.
- Family game night, special trips, etc.: As many as possible and as often as possible! Always find room for quality time, no matter what it takes!