Parent Skills: Nurturing
Every parent wants to provide their child with a safe, loving, and nurturing environment. But how can we ensure that our actions are aligned with that goal? Read on to learn 4 ways to include more nurturing in your daily interactions with your child.
1. Let them Know that Mistakes are Okay
Making a mistakes is a wonderful part of growing up because it gives us the opportunity to learn from those mistakes. More to the point though, it gives us the time to teach them. That’s what parenting is all about!
Address your child’s mistakes in a nurturing way to help them learn and grow without feeling bad about themselves. Let your child know that everyone makes mistakes. Don’t get angry at them when they make a mistake; instead, tell them that it’s a “little deal” and not a “big deal,” and take a little extra time to teach your child how they can do better next time. Look at it as a time to help your child improve so they can feel good about who they are. The most important thing is to let them know that mistakes are okay!
2. Redefine Their Weaknesses
Every child has behavioral weaknesses (and, let’s be honest, grown-ups do too!). Some get mad when they don’t win and physically show their anger by acting out; others are very sensitive and cry every time they are disappointed or sad. From one end of the spectrum to the other, your child will have a whole range of emotions and will be learning how to express them in the world.
The first key to redefining your child’s behavior is to redefine your perspective. For example, you may think that the only thing you can do to alleviate your child acting like a poor sport is to remove them from situations that trigger these behaviors, like eliminating sports from their schedule. Or, if your child cries at the drop of the hat, you may decide that they should not participate in situations where they may cry yet another time. This perspective focuses on the child and not the behavior.
Instead, turn your attention to what their behavior really means. Ask yourself, “What is the emotion underneath the behavior?” Then, create a course of action that helps your child funnel his/her feelings, behaviors, and personality into something positive and productive. This starts by nourishing their innate passions and skills instead of negating them by eliminating triggers in an effort to shut down certain behaviors.
3. Nourish their Skills
If you look ahead to a scenario in the future, you can see how a child who was considered bull-headed or a poor sport might’ve been guided to use that passion and fire that prompted those behaviors towards becoming an amazing CEO of a company, dedicated and driven to being the very best.
Or, perhaps the child who cries a lot may become an adult of great compassion and empathy, a caring parent, someone who changes the world for the better. None of this can happen if their behaviors are stifled instead of explored.
So, instead of focusing on your child’s unpleasant behaviors, keep your eye on the passions and emotions that make your child the amazing, unique individuals that they are. Consider how you can help them direct their energy & modify their behaviors so that these passions and innate talents are nurtured as they grow. This requires providing ways that they can be who they are through positive reinforcement of who they already are, which ultimately helps them become thriving and successful adults.
4. Choose the Direction
How do we get from here to there? From the bull-headed poor sport to the successful, driven CEO? From super sensitive crier to the caring parent and world-changer?
The key is to point their behavior in the right direction. The best way to deal with your child’s behaviors is to turn them into strengths! Here are some examples…
- For a child who gets upset when he loses, you might adjust their behavior by saying, “I love that passion that you have, but let’s work together on other ways you can express that passion and desire to others.”
- For a child who cries often, let them know that you love their big heart. Tell them, “I see that you get sad when you lose. I love how much you want to do better. But since crying all the time makes other people sad too, let’s see if we can find a different way to show that you care so much.”
Remember, nurturing means changing the behavior, not the child. No child is born with a proper sense of good behavior. Just like adults, they make mistakes… how else would any of us learn? Make sure to look at their mistakes as opportunities for education versus punishment. While you’re at it, do the same for yourself. 😉
The moral of the story is that when you look at your child, see the child who will one day use their passion and emotions to become an amazing adult one day. Being a nurturing parent means adjusting your child’s behaviors, not trying to change them. Change the behavior, not the child. Nurture their inner CEO or world-changer, and go from there!