Ah yes – Valentine’s Day! Love, love, love and more love! It’s fun to show love to our kids with chocolate hearts and heart suckers on this holiday. But how do we, as parents show our love everyday? - Unconditional love, affection, discipline, structure, attention, and understanding. Tall order? Yes, but through the strength that God gives us each day it is possible! He has blessed you with the responsibility of being a parent and will equip you.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these aspects of parental love.
- Unconditional love – As Christ loves us, so we should love our kids. That means when they misbehave, we love. When they talk back, we love. Do we like their behavior? Absolutely not – but we still love them and they need to know that! They need to be secure in your love for them as their parent.
- Affection – More than ever before, parents need to model appropriate affection to their children. Media bombards them with all sorts of imagery of affection that is not desirable. A hug from dad or a kiss from mom when they leave for school can set the tone for their day! Just a simple “I love you!” can speak volumes into their little hearts.
- Discipline – This takes effort! Matthew 5:37 tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. It pains me to see parents tell a child no and then after minutes of the child throwing a fit the parent gives in. Ugh! If the rules change all the time, how does the child know the expected behavior? Set reasonable expectations and adhere to them! Stay strong! Be firm and consistent.
- Structure – Kids need structure. Turning on the TV in the morning and letting the day slip away is not providing structure. Implement simple routines. For example, make a little chart that shows your daily activities. Breakfast / get dressed/ make beds/ playtime / read story / lunch / rest time / etc. Insert specific types of play - play-doh, painting, and blocks. This will help your kids learn to transition better when they get into school.
- Attention – If your child acts out every time you get on the phone or start a project, chances are they just want attention. That doesn’t mean you have to stop and play a game for an hour, just redirect them. Get them interested in something different – “Can you build me a big tower with those blocks?” Or “can you set up all your stuffed animals like the zoo?” Sometimes just a suggestion will do the trick. Plan to rotate their toys. Put some away for a while and save them to get back out when a fresh diversion is necessary. Give some thought to the time and attention you give to your social media – that is time not spent on your kiddos!
- Understanding – Kids have bad days just like we do. If they have a bad day, start fresh the next. God’s grace and mercies are new every morning. We should offer the same to our kids everyday!
Now that I am a grandparent, I look back on so many things I wish I had done differently with our boys. Trust me, the growing up years may often seem like they are never going to end, but they go by so quickly. I want to encourage you to parent without regret! Love, love, love!
Patty Emmert- I am a former Kindergarten teacher, current preschool teacher and children’s ministry director. I am the mother of 4 grown sons and grandmother to 10! I realize the importance of getting kids started off on a positive track in school. I'd like to offer some fun, simple ways to help you do that for your child!