Some great guidelines on how to have a happier family for both parents and children.
A while back, I was having trouble with my son. Try as hard as I might, I couldn't get him to feel excited about school. He wanted to stay home with me and nothing else would do. It was a most dramatic event when I dropped him off at school each day. I tried a reward system, reasoning, consequences, and anything else that seemed halfway reasonable. After about two months of unsuccessful negotiation with my son, and many sad days at school, I wearily pulled my son's teacher aside and asked for some help.
She gave me a piece of advice that I had heard many, many times: I needed to reconnect with my son. As I reflected back upon the last two months, I realized that I had put my relationship with my children in second place behind my work. I was busy starting a company, and my children were hindering my forward progress. My daughter was also failing victim to disconnection. Just as I was caught up in my own endeavors, my children were also over-scheduled; going to friend's houses, ballet, girl scouts, and soccer. Top that all off with a Dad who had new employment requiring late hours, and a house that needed maintaining, and we had almost all become strangers!
The following is taken from the book, [i]Raising Happy Children, a Parent's Guide[i]
by Javad Kashani, Donna Mehregany, Welsy Allen and Kate Kelly. Many of the points that follow have "connection" written all over them.
Guidelines for Creating a Happy Family
Set limits without being angry or cruel. - Limits should be in the best interests of the children and should be clearly explained from the beginning.
Reduce angry interactions at home. - While everyone gets upset sometimes, your home should primarily be viewed as a place for love and support.
Demonstrate the importance of dedication. - Whether you work hard at your job or contribute time to church or community, your devotion to something will serve as a useful example for your children. They will learn to incorporate this type of behavior in their own lives by working hard at school and knowing the value of community service.
Enrich your life through others. - Make friends feel welcome in your home, and expose your children to people you like, thus demonstrating the strength you receive from others.
Encourage open communication. - Family members should always be allowed to talk about what's bothering them and to share happy news,
Praise your children whenever you have an opportunity. - Noticing your child doing something good and acknowledging it is one of the most loving things you can do.
Spend time together. - Establish a family mealtime or playtime when you can all be together to share on many levels.
Encourage thoughtfulness. - Demonstrate the importance of helping others. Children raised in this environment become thoughtful and caring adults.
Respect your children. - Children who are respected will learn to respect you and others in return.
Mistakes that Create Family Unhappiness
Showing no respect for each other or your children.
Allowing ridicule to be an accepted part of your family's life.
Using threats and punishment to control each other and your children.
Demanding control; using anger and rage to get your way.
Forcing or manipulating children to take sides in parental arguments.
Emphasizing the importance of making money over spending time together as a family.
Discouraging open communication.
Failing to praise your children when they do well.
Seeking revenge when things go wrong.
Fulfilling the Basic Needs of Children
Children need to be respected. - Show your respect by listening to your child when she is telling a story, talking about her day, or expressing an opinion, even if it differs from yours.
Children need to be liked and loved. - Every kid has likable qualities. Find those characteristics and focus on them.
Children need to feel approved of an accepted by others. - Approval and acceptance are the foundation of self-esteem and self-concept. When your child misbehaves, you must separate the behavior from the child.
Children are naturally self-centered. - The infant is totally absorbed in his own needs; the kindergartner does not yet have the maturity to understand the feelings of others; and anyone who has ever seen a teenager react to a new pimple realizes that even at this age an enormous amount of energy is going into worrying about oneself
Children need time to play and to fantasize. - Some adults regard play as a waste of time, but play is actually constructive for a young one. Kids learn through experimentation and in play they learn to cooperate and to play by the rules.
Children need to feel special. - They feel more secure and loved when they feel that they bring a unique quality to the family.
Sibling rivalry is perfectly normal. - To modify it, you need to be sure each child has private time with you and is made to understand her special role in the family.
Children have real fears, worries, and anxieties. - The first fear many kids have is separation anxiety, and this fear may gradually transform itself into fear of the dark, animals, monsters, and other things. Listen to your child and take her fears and worries seriously.
Children tend to blame themselves unnecessarily. - Since children are egocentric and assume that they are the center of the world, they may think that when something bad happens it's their fault. Remember to reassure your youngster, even when something really was his responsibility.
I'm slowly working my way back into my children's lives. The good news is my son is now enjoying school. Taking time to reconnect with him was the key to motivate him. It feels good to know that at the end of the day, I have connected with my children, which is what it's all about.