Parenting Vivian | 05 Jul 2011 04:52 pm

How to Love Your Children Unconditionally

It is important to note that you build and create your children抯 self-esteem and self image. The words and actions you choose in interacting with them will have long lasting effects on them for the rest of their lives. This may seem like a no brainer, but the problem that arises is what parents say when they are angry, tired, stressed, and when their child is not listening or obeying. The way you treat your children and the words you use with them matter. Even the things you think about your children matter too, so try to think positive things about them, otherwise they will feel and most likely become the very things you are thinking about. This is called the self-fulfilling prophecy because although the original thought or prophecy may have been false, a child may start to believe it as true, so then their behaviors and reactions ultimately live up to what was expected of him or her. You have a great influence over the way your children feel about themselves.

揅onditioning?is what happens when an individual is exposed to certain things, and then in turn acts or feels a certain way because of what they were repeatedly exposed to. For example, if your parents threatened or said they didn抰 love you, or said that they hated you, called you names or put you down when they were angry, you may unconsciously find yourself doing this when you are upset. Perhaps you grew up and vowed never to say those things to your kids or to other people, but do you say them to yourself?

The point is, although children are resilient, when they grow up in a home where they are verbally abused and put down, there will be profound negative effects. Sometimes this comes in the form of self-hate, which can then turn into hate and anger towards others. Remember the saying. You can抰 love anyone else until you love yourself. Great wisdom exists in these words.

Be mindful of what you say to your children! If you give them unconditional love and acceptance, they will grow and flourish, learning to love themselves and to be able to have faith and trust in others around them–especially you. By supporting your children in this way they will learn that they can trust in you and they will more likely come to you when they have a problem. All kids struggle with issues with peers at one time or another. It is important that you be there for your child in a supportive and nonjudgmental manner. Don抰 you remember what it was like to be a child or teen and how you felt at times like nobody in the world understood you–especially your parents? Didn抰 you hate that feeling? Some of the things that children struggle with may seem very trivial, but to them it is their whole world, and their feelings need to be respected. The reason why we are able to help the children and teens we work with is because we really listen and care about what they are saying. If you build this type of relationship with your child, it will be easier to talk with him or her about crucial areas that need to be discussed, such as drugs and sex.

Unfortunately most of what children know about sex is by what the media tells them (i.e. television, magazines, internet), by what their friends tell them, and by their own experiences. It may seem easy enough to just say no sex until you抮e married, and while this is a great idea and hope to have for your child, the reality is that many children become sexually active well before marriage. But the truth is, the more you talk with them–really talk with them–about the ins and outs of sex, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, attachment and heartache, they may be less likely to engage in it. Or if they do, they will make better choices about it. This also doesn抰 mean just sitting down with them one time and talking about it, you need to check in with them from time to time and ask them about their friends and pressures at school or what they have been hearing.

Once again, try not to judge. This may be very difficult as you may not like what you hear, but it抯 better that you know what your children are being exposed to than being left in the dark. This way you can help guide them and give them the support they need to make the right choices. Do not confuse this with having the sole role of friend to your child, because although you do need to be your child抯 friend, your role as parent needs to come first. This is also true for discussions about drugs. You need to talk with your children about drugs, and please don抰 wait until it is too late.

Teach them while they are young, talk to them about what happens to people when they become addicted to drugs, and talk to them about peer pressure. Give them tools and ideas for how to say no. And be aware of what your children are doing, pay attention to their moods and behavior, and if you learn they are doing drugs, get help. Put your foot down, set limits. It is not okay for your child or teen to be using drugs or alcohol–period. And with this be careful what you are modeling for them. If you don抰 want them to drink and smoke, it would be wise not to partake in these activities either. Otherwise you will be what your children will correctly call a hypocrite–and nobody wants to listen to a hypocrite. The sad thing is that your words don抰 mean much if your actions are saying something else. What you teach your children now will help them to be healthy functioning adults when they grow up.

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