Have you looked at your children and pondered how disparate their personalities are? It is inexplicable how different they can be. Each child has a unique personality and a distinct set of abilities; and as parents, we need to discover how to help our children thrive and feel most loved by us.
In order to appreciate our children as they are, we need great self-awareness and a willingness to look at them and their individuality with love and empathy. Here are some ways to do just that.
Resist clinging on to idealised versions of your child
Curb the urge to live vicariously through your child — our children are not meant for us to live out our fantasies.
For example, if you’re an avid sportsperson and wished you had more opportunities to develop your talent in your younger days, guard yourself from imposing your desires on your child. Instead of pushing them into a sport you love by signing them up for lessons, why not introduce the sport as a recreation for family bonding? Get a sense of whether your child has real interest in what you love, before you set out to help them progress in the sport. Remember to let your child show you where their passions truly lie.
In another instance, your child doesn’t automatically inherit your extrovert traits just because you are one. Be mindful about not expressing disappointment if your child is reserved and somewhat introverted, preferring not to chit-chat with your friends at gatherings. Gently guide your child in developing interpersonal skills and learn to appreciate the fact that even as they choose not to interact, they are still observing us. As they mature, they may develop the nuances necessary for meaningful and stimulating conversations.
Read more: 6 Empowering Lessons to Teach Your Children
Be a keen student of your child
It is our responsibility to learn to be the best parents for our children; we can do that by being an enthusiastic observer of our children. Telling them when and what to do comes naturally for us, but it takes great discipline and self-control on our part to empathise with our children.
Take the time to ask questions that help you appreciate them more. Questions, such as “How did that make you feel?”, “What about that made you happy” or “How could I have done that or said that differently so that you understand what’s needed?”, give great insight into the way our children think, presenting valuable information that shape our interactions and help us genuinely appreciate their personalities and qualities.
Looking for strengths in what seems like weaknesses
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This adage gets us through the seasons of rebellion and tension in our relationships with our children. They have such unique passions and strengths, it can be challenging to find the strengths in what appear like weaknesses.
Try to see the silver lining in the cloud of resistance from your children. A strong-willed child, when guided well, can exhibit great tenacity in the face of challenging situations; the child whose curiosity seems impossible to tame when they keep taking things apart might have creative abilities worth honing.
Never compare your child to another
No matter how strong our children seem, our relationships can be damaged when we choose to compare them to others. A child who is constantly shown disapproval in comparison to others might develop low self-esteem and harbour deep resentment. Instead, we should set our minds to seek out the best ways to help them achieve their fullest potential, which is far more beneficial.
The key to appreciating our children’s uniqueness is to consistently look at them through loving and empathetic eyes. Seek to put yourself in their shoes and you will come to fully appreciate the unique individuals that we have the privilege of calling our children.
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