Right when you thought, what values you intend to instil in your child were not planted well, be patient. They absorb like sponges. By repetition, they keep it in their hearts and their minds seal it. And they always do what they see from you, not what you tell them to.
In one of the many conversations I have had with my daughter, there was the simplest one that I never saw coming but had truly melted my heart. I was feeling sick one night that I had to go home ahead of my husband and my daughter from a party. To my surprise, after I fell asleep for an hour (which was around 1:30am) already, they were still not at home. The party was just 4 floors lower than where we lived in the same building but I was furious with the fact that it’s past midnight and my 4-year-old isn’t home yet. So I called my husband. He went defensive saying he was waiting for my daughter to say she’s tired since that’s what they agreed upon.
But my thought lingered, a 4-year-old should not be tolerated if she wanted to stay late, right?
Knowing my husband, he told my daughter how furious I was. They hurried home and it was a sneaky entrance in the room from both of them. When I uttered, “It’s so late already Brave!” with my eyes closed the moment she climbed up on the bed, she hugged me tightly and she dozed off in less than a minute.
The next morning, she was awake seated beside me on the bed waiting for me to wake up. She smiled at the sight of me gaining life from a deep slumber the moment I opened my eyes. But changed her face instantly into showing the puppy eyes. I knew something serious was coming.
“Mommy?”, she said. “I am so sorry for coming home late last night. You were all alone. I am a bad best friend because I didn’t check on you when you were feeling sick. It will not happen again. Are you mad of me?” It was almost correct except for the ‘of me’ part. I just pulled her into a spoon hug and I answered, “No, I can never be mad at you.”
THE POINT OF THIS LITTLE STORY
Somehow, this moment passed. But then, there was a day my daughter was playing on her own. She was playing with the doll house complete with the little mom, dad, sister and brother toys at hand. She somehow relived that very conversation we’ve had making her toys speak the words we said. I thought it was so cute to hear that she sees it worthy to reenact. So, I thought she was just apologising back then because her dad asked her to. But, she meant it.
Expression of self from inside the house can go as far as practicing it outside like in the school, the playground, at a kiddie party or the church. So, it’s important to be mindful of the words we exchange with our child. Moreover, it’s important when we take time to mean what we say and to share to them the importance of expressing it.
Here are some encouraging loving words that I had told my daughter in one or two occasions that I’m truly surprised sometimes that she uses it when role-playing with her toys or when she communicates with other kids.
- I am proud of you. My daughter seems to beam when I say this to her. It gives her enough courage to try something new and it helps her sustain good behaviour.
- You are my best friend. It concretises in her mind how best friends should treat each other. This also strengthens the bond between you and your child in a special cool way.
- You are the best. Even if you are aware of the limitations your child has, saying this gives them empowerment. It also is a window for checking their humility meter. If they say, “I would’ve done better with this and that.”, it could branch out into a discussion about encouragement, patience and grit.
- You are the best part of my day. It is important to your child to know if you’re happy or delighted with them. Subtle opportunities of making them feel special may be neglected because we’re busy or we’re preoccupied most of the time with grown-up stuff but this statement assures them that you see them important and worthy of your time.
- It’s OK. Very simple but still needs to be expressed. Most especially when they stumble, when they make a mistake in their assignment or when they don’t get it right the first time. It makes them feel you’re going to back ’em up no matter what.
You are my favourite person. My daughter deems this as her favourite to hear. She instantly hugs me and gives me a peck when I say this. It just makes her heart fat and loved.
- I am here for you. This always works when my daughter seems to hesitate when telling the truth. It somehow encourages her to put down her walls. Probably because, she feels safe when I say this. On my part, I see to it that I’ll give immense understanding when it’s forgivable but when it matches the ‘unacceptable’ category, I’ll give immense lecture and then I’ll eventually forgive her.
- You did it! My daughter, being the first-born, has an undeniable ‘alpha’ streak when she doesn’t want to lose. She’s a sore loser actually. She cannot accept it and we always argue around this issue. What I do is, when she wins, I take time in making her feel good about it by giving her enough credit. And when something like losing happens, instead of cheering her on, I pat her on the back. I try to explain to her that in doing this, I acknowledge her hard work and perseverance. And at the same time, it’s an encouragement that she can do better next time.
- I love spending time with you. This is rarely exchanged outside the home so make sure you suffice their knowledge and their emotions with something intimate like this. Again for strengthening mother-child bond and for knowing how to be grateful of meaningful things such as companionship, the beauty in sharing, and spending time with family.
- You are mommy and daddy’s best. This somehow comes with an expectation. So, when I say this to my daughter, she delivers. She first acknowledges what I say by going, “Mommy is pretty while Daddy is strong. So I’m both pretty and strong.” So, this somehow makes her analytic and able to throw compliments by feeling comfortable with her own self. Also, the long-term connection to her family is being established. It strengthens her sense of belongingness which accounts for the third-level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
If you wish to add to these that I have exchanged with my kid, please share away by commenting below.
Never underestimate having a communication with your child because how you talk to them will eventually become reflected through their own conversations with other kids. My kid always asks about words that she doesn’t understand. When this happens, I don’t change the words that I use. I actually throw her a lot of hard synonyms when saying happy. One time she heard about the word ‘purpose’. Well, then that’s another story.