Many are saying this generation has bred some of the rudest, crudest and most insincere children there are. Every older generation has probably said that about the younger ones. Let’s face it, folks, the generations are what we create. We are, after all, the ones molding them. Though it is not necessarily true (Generation: R for Rude), it is the collective perception.
With iPads, iPhones, iThis and iThat out there, perhaps there is a disconnect at home. More time is being spent virtually, with technology rather than with people. Amidst all of the technological advances (distractions), the seeming chaos and turmoil on the news, and the decline in good ole’ fashion fun (traditions, rituals, quality time spent together and with nature), parents have all the more pressure on them to focus on what is really important and instill that in their children.
Here is a list of 10 priceless gifts that also happen to be free, that every parent may bless their child with. These gifts last a lifetime, not a New York minute until the next fad.
There’s a book called, “To a Child, Love Is Spelled T-I-M-E” by Mac Anderson and Lance Wubbels. They say that sometimes we all need a reminder that, “the most important things in life aren’t things.” A child may have every toy and new device known to man, but without quality time with his parents, he may as well have nothing. Love certainly is shown by spending time together.
Many parents get caught up working to “make a living” and “provide” for their child(ren). But, the choice to give up that valuable and precious time cannot be rewound or reconsidered, the time cannot be recovered. Your child is only a child once, and you can never redo those years to witness the many milestones your little one will reach, or to be there for them in times of need. At the end of our lives, do you think we will say that we wish we spent more time with or away from our children? No-brainer here. With! There is no more priceless – and important – gift you can give to your child than your time. It’s the biggest and best gift of all. You are giving them yourself. And that says a lot. It also happens to be the best gift you can give yourself, too.
Piggybacking on the gift of time, staying present is imperative to quality time together. Being physically present is not the same as being fully present with the little ones. If you are emotionally absent, it’s like you’re not even there Staying present and connected during your time spent together will make a huge impact on your relationship with your child(ren) Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.”
Living deeply, connected to your child, means being in the here and Now with them. Paying attention, experiencing the moment. Thinking about that growing to-do list, or an argument you had, or what to make for dinner will only distract you away from spending time with your child. If you catch your mind wandering, no big deal! Bring it back to the moment and fully engage your child. Maintain eye contact and touch. Diving in with body, mind and soul will help to keep you from becoming distracted and will enhance the enjoyment of the experience for both you and your child.
Play and Create
On a similar note to spending time and remaining present, allowing play and creativity is vital to a child’s well-being. Many times, we – as parents – want our kids to do the things we want to do. We feel that dragging them out to the stores we have to go to, or running errands that need to get done, or participating in activities or hobbies that we like is considered good quality time together. kids are only kids once. Let them do what they want to do! You only get a good five solid years before school starts, and they just get busier from then on.
Encourage your child to choose activities that make her happy and foster creativity. It’s only a matter of time before the world gets a hold on our children and they begin to lose that wonder and enthusiasm; the space where anything is possible if they can think it or dream it! Keep that world alive as long as you possibly can for them. Play is a form of imagination and creation. Teach your child to manifest that which she desires by holding firm to a vision and feeling it. It’ll do her more good than you realize in later years. And let’s be real, it couldn’t hurt you to take a mini-vacation into the magical world of your child.
Not only do we, as parents, choose to lean towards activities we like, but we also unknowingly (or knowingly) push our agendas and likes and dislikes on our children. We instill into them our values, beliefs and opinions. We brainwash them with our prejudices and judgments. We pass down the conditioning that we experienced. We live our lives through them. Let’s remember we do not want to create zombie robots; we want to create beautiful human beings!
Part of that means being flawed and being unique. We are like our finger prints: different than one another, though made of the same flesh. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to accept them for who they are. The good, the bad, the ugly. True and unconditional love means loving without borders, without conditions. Accepting your child will allow him to really flourish and grow, to be comfortable in his own skin.
Teaching acceptance also allows him the opportunity to accept others as they are, without any need or desire to change them. While it’s easy (and sometimes habitual) to focus on the things that drive us crazy and lose sight of all of the good, the things we love about our children, it bears great fruit to focus your energies on praising and appreciating your child for the beautiful budding blossom that he or she is. Osho shares, “If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.” This is such a priceless life lesson.
Validation is like one-upping on acceptance. Our society has trained us to comfort others with such phrases as “it’s ok,” and “there’s nothing to cry (or worry) about.” We say such things as, “don’t be scared.” Even worse, “boys don’t cry,” and “you’re a big girl now. Big girls don’t cry or whine.” Without even knowing it, we are being incredibly dismissive of our little one’s feelings. We are also inadvertently teaching them to suppress their emotions. Neither of which are healthy for our children (or anyone). Validating your child is a simple switch from “don’t be scared,” to “wow, that must have been scary for you! Why don’t you tell me what happened?”
By encouraging your child to open up and express her feelings, you are allowing her the opportunity to share the experience and start the healing process. When we quickly shut down our emotions (or those of our children), we are actually making the negative feelings get stuck inside. This is where self-limiting beliefs and fears stem from in childhood. It’s so subtle most of us don’t even realize it. In order to grow past a fear or experience, we have to go through it. Validating your children will give them the opportunity to do this, and make them feel important. Being heard and seen, and being a safe and loving place for them to open up, is a tremendous gift you can give your children everyday.
Validating your child will boost his self-worth and confidence. It will give him the chance to sort through his own emotions and feelings, and feel safe doing so. It will save him much emotional trauma and will gift him the ability to validate (and be there for) others, as well. Confidence is imperative to movement. When we are confident in ourselves and our abilities, we reach out and stretch beyond our comfortability into a world of infinite possibility.
Charles Stanley teaches, “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.” Encourage your child to take bold action, to believe in himself and let him know that you believe in him, no matter what. Teach him that falling does not mean failing. Being a cheerleader for your child will open up many doors that may have otherwise remained closed.
According to Wikipedia, mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.” Take inventory of yourself, how you are parenting your child, the behaviors you see cropping up (good or bad). Our children can be mirrors of our worst behaviors and conditioning. Our patterns. An anonymous author once wrote, “Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” The way your child plays says a lot about her state of mind, her inner world. Pay close attention to your child. Notice any red flags, and celebrate the positive things you see.
Being non-judgmental means you’re not paying attention so you can punish. You are simply observing the present, the Now. What is. And what is not. Be mindful of your own actions, behaviors, words and emotions around your child, and about your child. Everything is energy and what we think or feel seeps out into the material world. Your child is sensitive to this; she picks up on your energy whether you realize it or not. It permeates her world.
Choose positive, uplifting words when speaking to her. Take action. Accept yourself, your child and what is. Teach her to make homemade apple pie when she is handed a bunch of (what appear to be) really sour and rotten apples. Sometimes the biggest hurdles we have to overcome in life were the result of a lifetime of very tiny, unrecognized subtleties we absorbed from what was around us. Remaining mindful of all that you show up with and present to your child will aid you in creating the healthiest environment possible for her (and you).
One particular thing to be mindful of are the words you speak. Honor your word and keep your promises. Empty promises leave a trail of destruction and broken trust in their wake. Broken trust leaves a child (or anyone) feeling very unsafe, unstable and afraid. This can also make a child feel unimportant, unloved and unseen. Choose your words carefully; you may want to make him feel better but a lie is a lie is a lie. Lying to manipulate his emotions, even if its done with good intent to cultivate positive emotions, can birth heavy consequences. Rather, be truthful, and gentle. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Not only does this gift your child with confidence, safety and a feeling of love and trust, but you will gain integrity. And that will make you feel good. Setting an example of open honesty and trust will show your child that he, too, can be open and honest and that he should strive to say what he means and mean what he says.
At every opportunity (which is available infinitely), show your child love. Do it with affection and touch. Do it with words and actions. Love can be as simple as telling your child it’s okay to make mistakes. Or by holding her hand when she is upset. By playing his favorite game. By reading her a nighttime story. By boosting his confidence. There are ample ways (endless, really) to show and express your love.
Showing your child love – real love, not the judgmental and conditional kind we think is love – sets her up with a solid foundation for a lifetime of health and well-being. Nelson Mandela said, “Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
There is one universal gift that not only benefits your child, but the whole of mankind. As Emma Goldman said, “No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.” One person’s kindness has a ripple effect that touches the world in a quick sweep. And it returns back to your child, as well. Kindness can eradicate bullying, violence and hate crimes. It can decrease the number of suicides. Our children possess this magnificent gift. They are born clean, without judgments. Mohandas Gandhi said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
What we pass on to our children becomes the world, it is manifested into reality. Whatever it is we want for our children in their lifetime, we need to begin it at home. Kindness breeds kindness. Love shared is love gained and spread through out the Universe. Doing good not only affects the one receiving, it benefits the one giving, as well. Do good, feel good. So simple And lastly, let’s not forget the golden rule… treat others as you wish to be treated. Have your child treat people the way you wish that they would be treated by others. What a gem, a truly invaluable gift to give your child… and the whole of humankind.
This article was originally published by Camille on examiner.com.