Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Chynna's Sensational Pearls: 7 Things 'Sensational' Caregivers Should Say To Their Kiddos Every Day
Very early on, during the time when Jaimie was nonverbal, I knew that what I said to her got through. I could tell looking into her beautiful blue eyes that she heard what I'd say, even when she couldn't--or didn't want to--speak back. And now that she's doing so much better, I know she absorbed my words into her soul because I often hear her repeating the same phrases to me or to her siblings. When I ask her where she heard the expressions, she'll say, "I don't know. They just make me feel good so I like to say them."
What we do for our kids to help them function in the world around them is so important. But what we say is sometimes even moreso because those words stick like crazy glue. And if you give them loving and positive words to repeat to themselves (and others), it's an incredible gift that keeps going forward.
Here are a few things I say to my kids (especially my 'sensational' ones) each and every day:
I love you. This may seem like a no-brainer but some of us feel that showing love can be the same as saying it. It isn't the same to kids. They need to hear those words. In our situation, Jaimie and her daddy had a very difficult time bonding. To this day, she still can't deal with his touch or other interactions. But he has never let a day go by without telling her that he loves her, even if she doesn't want to hear it or says it back. It's important for those of you who share Steve's situation that those words matter. Keep saying them!
Try your best. I won't let my kids say, "I CAN'T!" There is no such thing. Yes, there may be many things my kids have difficulty with or struggle with more than their peers do but they can do just about anything if they learn what 'their way' is. Never tell your child she can do it because that could make her feel bad if she struggles. By telling her to try her best, that's exactly what she'll do and it'll be just fine.
I'm so proud of you. Our kids' self-esteem often takes a real beating, especially when they see their friends doing things with ease that they find difficult. They need to know that whether they are #1 or come in last or get too tired to finish, you'll be proud of their efforts.
Tell me about your day. There was a time when I knew everything each of my kids does because...well...I'm here. But Jaimie is in Grade Three now and at that age (nine) where they start pulling away a bit to be their own person. Don't ask, "How was your day?" because that just prompts a one-word answer. If you say, "Tell me about your day." you are more likely to get some details. Doing this keeps the communication lines open so as she gets older, she'll know not only that I'm still here but that I'll also take the time to listen.
I'm here. I don't know about your 'sensational' kids but mine need alot of time to process things in order to be able to chat about them. Jaimie has gotten better with this but she still needs to check in with her thoughts and feelings so she can say what she wants/needs to in a way we can understand her. (Believe me...it's taken a TREMENDOUS amount of work for her to get to this point!) When you tell him, "I'm here." he'll know you'll be there ready, willing and able to listen when he's ready to talk.
Nobody is perfect. Kids see our world very differently from the way we do. And when a child has special needs, they think they are the only ones who have what they struggle with and can feel even more isolated. On the tougher days, I remind my kids that none of us is perfect. We all have things we need to work on and we all do our best to live in the world around us. There is no such things as 'perfect'. There is only 'as good as we can be'.
You are so beautiful/brave/smart/strong/etc. Never pass up the opportunity to shoot those compliments when your kiddo needs them the most. They ARE beautiful. They ARE strong. They ARE brave. WE know that but they need to believe it. Fill their hearts with love for themselves so they carry it with them on the rougher days.
Words are very powerful so let's make sure we're using them effectively, and every day, to build our children's self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. There are fewer gifts greater that that.