I have a deep love for children.
I have spent a great deal of my adult life in their time, watching them develop,
gain more skills and become more confident within themselves.
The more time I spend with them, the more I realize, that a happy child is truly
the making of the relationships they have with their peers and the adults in their
So often as adults we believe we have to protect our children from all things
Yes, there are something’s children should not experience and never be exposed to, but in saying that, it is the same things us adults shouldn’t have to experience
Abuse - be it physical or verbal
Abandonment - we truly all need a group of people we feel we belong too. Our
tribe mentality comes from inherently knowing that we are better off being part of
a group than standing by ourselves.
Rejection - now this is a tough one, as adults’ rejection can be a redirection, a
blessing of change...this still doesn’t mean it’s comfortable. However, in a child
rejection is a truly difficult thing to manage. Especially when it comes from a
family member or a significant adult figure. The saying of “black sheep in the
family” now that’s what burns, often it’s absorbed as - I need to be better or there
is something wrong with me. Neither of which are true. So, we create little people
to become adults who are forever striving for acceptance or attention no matter it
being negative or positive.
All of the above manifest in a variety of ways, and honestly there are a multitude
of things that I’ve not mentioned that causes disruptions in a child’s
However, it is never too late to address the situation when acknowledged. The above are serious situations and require a variety of methods to assist in the challenges that might
transpire namely, corrective counselling and therapies. Consider play therapy as often
children express their pain and discomforts more in the manner, they play than through the words they use.
However, there are ways to develop strong resilient children who can manage their emotions and spend most of their days experiencing joy and happiness. We teach just by being us, children have a magnificent ability to absorb and learn through observation. They mimic us more than we begin to imagine.
Thus, a lot of what they learn they absorb from us. So, let’s show them how to be; Honest- this may be uncomfortable as we as adults want to be “perfect” in children’s eyes, however we teach them more by telling them the truth about how we are doing. If we have a bad day, express just that, tell them about it, just enough so they understand. (There is no need to express the details of it all, just the emotions that are experienced by yourself). They will learn to express their negative emotions in a positive manner in this way. If we have a good day, express that. Explain to them why the day was filled with victories and show them how to celebrate them.
Communicate - we all have moments of being reactive, it’s completely normal to respond in the height of an emotional experience. Yet if we ourselves are able to communicate calmly in our reactions we teach our children the strength of facing a problem with assertiveness and composure. Teach them that anger is a normal human emotion that is there to protect us in unfair or unjust situations. But when they are angry it’s important for them to be able to express why they are angry, for example “ I am angry that you shouted at me, if you had asked why I didn’t put my dirty clothes in the washing basket, I could have explained to you that I was first completing my homework and was going to do it as soon as my homework was done” - this is probably a silly example, but it expresses the realities of communication.
Another example may be “I am angry because Peter said I’m a useless rugby player and that’s why I called him names.” In this case you could explain that hurting Peter by calling him names only fuels the child’s personal anger and gives Peter power to do it again. One could also encourage the child to evaluate the words and check their validity, choosing to accept the statement or reject it. Taking back their own authority with regards to the matter.
Kindness - being kind to those around us, both human and animals, teaches our children a variety of things. Compassion both sympathy and empathy as well as respect. Treating all people as equals regardless of gender or race is an essential skill and human quality for our modern day and age. When we are polite and gentle to those around us our children mimic it and carry it forward in their lives. They show compassion to their less fortunate peers and often are able to sympathize with those who are going through difficult times.
Boundaries - we often struggle with boundaries in our adulthood, as we ourselves have been encouraged throughout our lives to think of how others would feel if we did x or y to them. We ourselves often put others needs above our own. Because it is the right thing to do. Placing more value on another than our own needs. Saying this I’m not advocating selfish behavior, rather self-preservation. We truly can’t pour from an empty cup and if we ourselves are constantly putting everyone else’s needs above our own, what will our children do? Hence teaching our children that they have the right to ask for space from a
friend who has said hurtful things, invaded their private space or may even have betrayed them. Asking for space and placing distance between themselves and the other party is a healthy and all so important skill to imprint on them. It needs to also be explained, that how said friend responds isn’t their responsibility to manage. What they are to manage is how they relay the information. “I need some time to process everything that’s happened, I need a little space to find out how I would like to move forward in this relationship, when I am ready l will reach out to you and we can discuss it.” In this way we teach social responsibility and self-preservation all at once. Boundaries are never easy to set and with every relationship and interaction they may be different. What is important is that we need to make sure our children are allowed to choose who they allow into their tribe, being kind to everyone but choosing who to trust is a life skill that they will benefit from, forever.
As mentioned right at the beginning a happy child is the makings of their relationships. Let us help our children make good choice as to who they relate with so that they can be content, and joy filled members of society. A happy child that experiences being heard and cared for, should flourish in all their strengths, and develop in their weaknesses to support their development, reaching the goals they are able to. Thus, to conclude remember, your little one mimics you. Teach them the power of: Honesty Effective communication Kindness and the power of, Boundaries.