Children Learn What They Live #12

~ by Dorothy Law Nolte ~


Even when we don't state our feelings explicitly, our children are experts at knowing what we approve of as well as what we don't. We might need to become more generous and less critical if we truly want them to flourish.

By the way we express our approval, we can influence what our children come to value and like about themselves. In this way, we contribute both to their developing identities and to their emerging morality.

Our approving remarks – "Go ahead," "Stay with it," "You’re doing great!" – send a reassuring message and encourage children to continue with their efforts.

We need to support our children's developing self-esteem so they can like themselves on their own terms. This will help them hold firm to what they know is right when outside pressures challenge them.

If our children grow up to be responsible human beings who make their decisions conscientiously and in good faiths, we should be pleased, regardless of whether or not we agree with every specific decision they make.

We need to be on the alert when a child seems to be constantly seeking approval. What he might really need is love and affection.

When older children ask for our approval about a choice they're making, they're letting us know they respect us and have confidence in our judgment. Don't miss this opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue.

We make it easier for our children to gain our approval when we have realistic expectations of them, when we are firm but flexible, and when we create with them a family setting in which their contributions are respected.

The child who is anxiously seeking your approval may really need more special time together – time to be closer to you.

As our children mature, they will develop their own standards and values, and they may not always be the same as ours. Part of letting them grow up is accepting that sometimes they will act independently of our approval.

Our approval encourages our children to feel good about themselves, both for what they do and for who they are.

Given a supportive and nurturing environment, our children are free to bloom into their own best selves and grow up with the knowledge that they are loved and valued for their own special qualities.

Ultimately we want our children to develop the inner strength to do what's right, independent of their friends' – and even our – approval.

Life is easier and more fun in families where approval and acceptance are the norm. We all feel better about ourselves in this kind of atmosphere.

Television and movies offer us many opportunities to let our children know what kinds of behavior we disapprove of and to open up discussions about possible alternative behaviors.

The more we include our children in negotiating family rules, the better they will accept our disapproval when they misbehave. Asking their opinion about how to enforce the rules can lead to much better cooperation.

As parents, we need to be able to give our approval freely and easily. This will provide our children with a model for their own marriages.

Our children want and need our approval – don't withhold it for fear of spoiling them. Instead, give your approval generously, even when it's for something little, like remembering to clear their place from the table or to hold the door for someone.

A positive sense of self will play an important role throughout our children's lifetime, influencing their marriages and their relationships with their children.

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