Accepting Children for Who They Are
Make listening to your child your first priority. The toddler and preschool years are an excellent time to start tuning in to your child’s interests and dreams, so you can help uncover who she’s meant to be. When you make listening a priority, you nurture your child’s creativity and open-ended approach to life.
“Childhood is a big buffet, a time for kids to try new things and explore and see what moves them,” Doe says. “We need to be loving guides for that, rather than putting unnecessary expectations and achievement-oriented rules onto our child’s play.”
Listening also helps you stay in the moment. When you listen, you dissolve the distance between you and your child. You downshift into her rhythm instead of expecting her to come up to an adult rhythm.
Use Positive Words
One of your most powerful parenting tools is also one of the simplest: your words. Doe recommends being very careful about what you say to your kids, because words have tremendous power to lift your child’s spirit—or crush it. What you say is what you get. “What a child hears he believes,” she says. “Positive words can give him hope and open up possibilities.”
Positive words are also contagious. Kids will learn to view their world from a positive point-of-view when they hear their parents say things like, “We’re stuck in traffic. Isn’t this great? We get to spend more time together on the way to school.”
Especially at this early age, it’s a mistake to categorize your children, using labels like “Sam’s the quiet one” or “Mackenzie’s the bright one” or “Peter’s going to be our little football player.” It’s difficult for any child to escape that kind of definition—even if you never say it out loud.
“Kids are rapidly changing, and we need to allow our children to show us who they are today,” Doe says. “When we show up each day with a sort of ‘blank slate’ about who our child is right now, we’re open to the surprises they bring us and we can take action to help them evolve into who they’re meant to be.”
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