The statistics on our youth are dismal and demands / deserves the attention of all.
What can we expect from a generation of youth living with the prospect of their life being taken by gunfire? We owe them more. We owe them LIFE. Every individual who interacts with a child has an opportunity and obligation to make a difference in that child’s life, beginning with parents on the home front and school where the child spends equal number of waking hours. Parents and teachers are responsible for the child’s development. We have a choice- continue to allow children to lose their lives on the streets and in the prisons or do whatever it takes to reprogram ourselves. I suggest we take another look at what is needed in order to survive and thrive – and for our children’s sake – let’s focus on them.
Acknowledge your feelings as well as the child’s.
The next time you’re upset or angry, search for the feeling that preceded the anger and just allow yourself to feel that until it goes away. We live in a culture filled with hypocrisy because we’ve been conditioned to hide our feelings. While therapists are trained to address this, how many of us seek out the help of therapists? How many can afford it?
Children have feelings and they should be allowed to express them. Emotions are transient as long as they can be expressed. If stifled, the feelings may affect the child’s perception of people and things in a negative way into adulthood. Instead of criticizing the child, help the child get to the source by helping him identify the feeling that triggers the upset.
Don’t judge, attack or curse.
We need to stop the attacks, blame and criticisms. Simply state the facts so that constructive action can happen. Start listening to yourself to hear what your child hears from you. Know that it might not be easy since we’re generally repeating or reacting to what we grew up with. We’re killing the self-esteem of our youth – our future. All adults must get it – it simply has to stop. The buck stops here with each and every adult.
Get to know your child –
Observe what he enjoys doing. Make sure you schedule those activities regularly or save them for rewards or special occasions.
Catch them doing something right often –
Look for opportunities to say “Great Job” as often as you can. Find a gentle way to correct. Instead of an impatient “No” or “That’s not right”, perhaps say “Ummm, maybe you could try it another way” and suggest another way, working with the child now, not ordering or judging.
Give child individual attention regularly. Find a pocket of time for each of your children. It may be a mere five minutes but those few minutes focused on that child sends a message: “With all my parents have to do, I am important!” Needless to say, special trips and activities always make a difference.
Let your child contribute. Chores allow children to know they can contribute to the household. Find skills and talents your child possess and create ways for them to be used. Seven-year-old Malaika and her nine-year-old sister Nailah have been assigned household chores for a few years. Recently, Malaika announced she was learning to type in a computer class, proudly announcing the keys she could reach. I’ve been gathering news from family members who are living in five states for a monthly newsletter – Family Flash. Malaika typed a section of the January 2013 edition and her sister Nailah, who had not announced any typing skills, asked to type her family’s news. They both did an incredible job, leaving me totally impressed. Parents and grandparents have the opportunity to let the children practice what they learn. Being appreciated for their performance will inspire their performance in school.
Allow your child the power of choice. Find opportunities for child to choose from a selection of sanctioned options. It gives children the feeling of being capable. Older children will probably go outside your box, and then be prepared to present rational reasons, never “Because I said so”.
Accept and honor your child’s uniqueness. If we are nurtured, we grow to express our uniqueness and contribute to the world. The seed knows what it is and what it’s come to do. Provide the nurturing and trust nature to provide the direction. Readers are invited to join the conversation with shared experiences, questions and comments /firstname.lastname@example.org