The other day, I was at an interesting parenting seminar.
The psychologist giving the lecture opened the session by asking us what the single most important aspect of parenting is, regarding raising children with a healthy self-esteem.
Assorted answers rang through the crowd.
“Give ’em lots of hugs and kisses.”
“React to their good and bad actions positively.”
“Praise often and criticize rarely.”
“These were all excellent parenting tips,” Dr. D reassured us, “but what is the essential key to raising children who have great self-esteem?”
More parents called out various parenting advice, until the good Doctor silenced the crowd.
“There is one factor that will determine a child’s level of self-esteem. Parents can mess up in any other area, but if they mess up in this one area, the child is doomed to a low self-image. This is psychological math, it is the reason why children grow up feeling good about themselves.”
We all waited with baited breath, as the psychologist continued.
“The single most important aspect of parenting is conveying the message to your children that they are the source of your joy. They are the reason for your happiness, NOT a deterrent to it!”
He went on to demonstrate this principle with a story. He was visiting a friend who was describing a horrible incident that had recently occurred. She referred to the terrible day as a “snow day”. On that awful snow day, she had been trapped with all three of her children in their home for a period of twenty-four hours. Dr. D expounded upon how the children, who had been listening nearby, had felt.
When children feel that they are a deterrent to their parent’s happiness, they feel unworthy and badly about themselves.
Imagine if you came home early from work, and met your spouse in the living room, who looked up and remarked, “Oh, Honey, I was really hoping for some peace and quiet here this afternoon, why don’t you go on over to hang out at a friend’s house?”
How would you feel? Do you feel valued? Appreciated? Highly regarded?
Obviously not. The same feelings of rejection are experienced by children who are greeted upon their arrival home from school with, “Sweetheart, I’m really busy now, why don’t you play in the basement?” Or at Sammy’s house, or outside, or upstairs, or ANYWHERE BUT HERE!
Greeting a child who comes home from school with love and attention is one of the integral keys to raising psychologically sound kids.
Your children know that you are busy. You’ve told them so thousands of times! When you take the time and energy to focus upon them, they feel valued and esteemed.
Remember- how do children spell “love”? T-I-M-E!