Thursday, March 3, 2016

10 Things I Always Tell My Children

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Becoming a mother is one job I've always wanted. Playing house was my favorite game, I loved watching kids, I had to hold every baby I met, and I couldn't wait to join the sweet inner circle of motherhood. I've always read a lot of articles about parenthood, even while in high school. I just wanted to do it "right", to do the best that I could to give my children the best of me. I'm in no way a perfect parent and I never will be, but I hope to give my children what they need from me. I think it's important to be intentional and I think a lot about the words I use when I talk to my girls, what messages I want to share with them, what actions I can take to guide them, love them, build their self-esteem, and teach them. There's so, so, so many things I want for my children, it's truly and endless list, but these 10 phrases below are something I tell them often. 

1. I love you
This is a given for any parent, but I make sure to tell them every single day, multiple times. I want to ensure my children know that I will love them no matter what. No matter their choices, their lifestyle, or anything I will always love them unconditionally. I never want them to think that something they choose to do will make me love them any less or that they can’t come with me with a problem. I will always love them and I want them to know that.

2. Don’t give up, keep trying!
When Eleanor first starts something, she can get frustrated that it’s not right or she can’t do it right away. I always encourage her to keep trying to keep going and she’ll eventually get it. Life is hard, and I want my children to be able to face their challenges and not be discouraged if it’s not right the first time.

3. Please / Thank you
Not only do I want to teach my children manners, but I want them to speak with respect and kindness. I don’t want them to expect things to be given or done for them, but to ask politely and to show appreciation to others.

4. I’m sorry / I forgive you
Everyone makes mistakes, I’m not a perfect person, friend, wife, or mother. If I’ve done something wrong, I want to make it right, especially to those I love. When my patience is short, when I raise my voice, I talk to my girls. I’ve apologized and talked to them and when the situation is the other way around, I talk to them about their actions. They’re little, but they’re smart. They know and understand so much more than what they can verbalize.

5. It’s ok to feel ____
One lesson I’m trying to teach Ellie is that she is in control of her actions and her emotions do not control her. How she feels is important, and it’s ok for her to feel any emotion she is feeling. I want her to know that how she feels is important to me and she doesn’t need to be sorry that she feels one way or another. When she’s had a tantrum, I’ve told her “It’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to be mad at mommy. It’s not okay to yell.” We’re practicing positive ways to express herself. It’s a lesson I’m sure will take years to learn and she’s not going to master it in her toddler years, but I want her to know that how she feels is valid and to be able to make the right decisions and actions for each situation instead of letting her emotions control her.

6. I’m proud of you
Telling your child that you're proud of them boosts their confidence, lets them feel loved, and it's so easy to do! "You're an amazing sister!", "You did that so fast, that's awesome!", "You did a great job sharing today at play time!". Look for the good and you'll find it! When we've had a great day together, and we're talking over dinner time, I'm always sure to brag to my husband about what great thing we did that day- showing kindness, good listening, obeying, etc. Her face just lights up and she gets the biggest smile. 

7. It’s your choice
We give Ellie a several choices to make each day so she can learn to make decisions on her own and to feel empowered. We do a lot of “this or that” and “if, then” questions. We also follow through with consequences when she makes the wrong decision. We do this to teach her to take responsibility for her actions and to build her confidence in decision making. It might seem like a lot for a toddler, but these questions at this time mostly refer to clothing and food choices.

8. You’re beautiful
Children have so many wonderful, amazing qualities and abilities, and there's so much we want to teach them, and one of those things I want to teach my children is that they're beautiful. I think they're absolutely perfect in every way and I want them to feel confident about their looks and their bodies. The world can be full of so much judgment and as girls they're subject to so much ridicule, looks aren't everything, but I want them to have a positive opinion of themselves. 

9. I trust you
Trust is a foundation to all relationships and you start building trust with you baby as soon as they're born. When they cry, they're trusting you to meet their needs, whether that's to be picked up and soothed, fed, or changed. When you drop them off at daycare in the mornings, they're trusting that you will come back to get them! They look for follow through on promises (or threats) and trust in your word. It also goes the other way, I want my children to know that I trust them too. By trusting in your children, they learn to trust themselves, their inner voice, their intuition, and I want to nurture and strengthen that. Of course my children will make decisions I don't agree with, but I trust that they're continuing to grow and develop and when they're older, no one will know them better than they know themselves. 

10. I’m listening
Each day when we get home from work and over the dinner table we ask Eleanor about her day. When she’s upset or has thrown a tantrum, once she calms down we talk to her about whatever it was that upset her. I often tell her “I’m listening” and “tell me more” so that she knows that I care and that what she has to say is important to me. It give her an opportunity to share her thoughts and feelings and also teaches her the importance of listening.

What are some things you're sure to tell your children? What messages are important to you to teach? I love hearing what other families say and teach, there's so much to learn and new things to do! Please share below!
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