We all try to be the best parents that we can possibly be, and it can be a bit frustrating when our kids don’t seem to notice or appreciate our efforts. But our kids pick up on a whole lot more than what we think. It just so happens that what’s important to them may not necessarily be the most obvious thing to you.
Dave Willis of Patheos came out with a list of 5 things your kids will remember about you, pointing out the parenting habits that are most important to our kids. Here’s what they listed down.
1. How safe (or unsafe) you made them feel
According to the Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia, most children are a lot more anxious concerned about their immediate and long-term safety and wellbeing than most adults think. They appreciate—and will remember—the times you comforted them after a bad nightmare or during a night of scary thunderstorms. However, they will also remember the times they felt afraid of you when you lost your temper. Though it’s normal to lose your temper at times, it’s important that your presence makes them feel secure, not unsafe.
2. How you gave them your full attention
We are surrounded with more distractions than ever, and more and more parents find themselves just giving their kids some of their attention, scrolling down their smartphones while their children talk about their day. According to Power to Change, devoting your attention to your children at regular intervals (e.g. during mealtimes or a “parent date”) makes them healthier, perform better at school, more sociable, and more likely to want to spend more time with you.
Read about what else your kids will remember you for on the next page.
3. How you and your spouse treated each other
Your marriage sets your children’s expectations about love and relationships, so it’s especially important that we set a good example of a healthy and empowering relationship. According to Psychology Today, when children sense that not all is well with their parents’ relationship, this usually makes them anxious and insecure, which could lead them to act out. A happy relationship between parents lets them focus on the wellbeing and happiness of their children, giving them a positive picture of marriage.
4. How you built them up (or how you tore them down) with your words
“A comment that means little to us at the time may ‘stick’ and be repeated long after we are dead and gone. By contrast, the warm and affirming things we say about our sons may be a source of satisfaction for decades,” wrote Dr. James Dobson in his book Bringing Up Boys. Our words are powerful, and we should take more care when speaking to our children. Give them sincere words of affirmation, and when they need correction and discipline, do it lovingly and guard your tongue.
5. How you maintained family traditions
According to The Art of Manliness, traditions not only strengthen your family’s identity, bond, and sense of comfort and security, they also create lasting memories. And they don’t have to be elaborate traditions—in a survey cited by Ellen Galinsky in her book Ask the Children, kids said that they would remember simple traditions the most (e.g. “family dinners, holiday get-togethers, and bedtime stories”). Make traditions that your children will want to pass onto their own kids one day.
READ: 10 Things parents of well-adjusted children never say
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