Children – they are very smart! As adults we feel like we always know better simply because we have been in the world longer than our children, which is true – but we often underestimate how children view the world too. Children’s minds are malleable at a young age – however we teach them things, they remember. But what impacts them more is what we do in front of them. You do many things for your child out of love, but here are the things they will never, ever forget –
1. How you show them affection
How you show your love to your child automatically becomes his way of showing love to others in the long run. If you are distant and don’t show a lot of affection, your child might grow up being distant and inexpressive as he grows older. He may not intentionally do it, but he might subconsciously pick it up as a child. Hence, shower your child with love as much as you can to raise him with a healthy idea of love. Say ‘I love you’ often; use physical touch like hugging and kissing to express how you appreciate him. This will go a long way.
2. How you handle their mistakes
Every child is bound to make mistakes, simply because they are learning. However, how you react to your child’s mistakes makes a big impact on how he sees the mistake, and how he learns from it. If you yell, scream, and blame your child for making the mistake, he will most likely not learn much from it, but not repeat it only out of fear. Screaming all the time will one day de-sensitize him to your anger, and he might even refuse to correct his errors out of spite. This might end with him becoming stubborn and angry as a grown-up. Hence, choose your words wisely. Positive re-inforcement can make him believe that he can come to you regarding his issues without any judgment or anger from your side.
3. How you handle their achievements
Children are the happiest when they are appreciated for their achievements! Since your child is just learning how to do things, a little encouragement every now and then can do wonders for his self-esteem, both now and in the long run. A pat on the back, saying, “I’m proud of you!”, and actually showing up for his prize distributions or annual day functions has an incredible effect on your child’s relationship with you. If you consistently mock your child for getting something wrong, it can create feelings of resentment that will fester over time. Thus, it’s good to express your pride in your child when you can.
4. What you teach them about money
Children watch and learn things all the time – this is why your actions around your child matter immensely. You might think that your child cannot understand much about your finances, but he can see the frequency of your spending – and that can develop his relationship with money. From a young age, teach him the concepts of saving and spending money wisely. Take him grocery shopping and let him hand you vegetables and other items. Let him watch you bargain respectfully with the vendors, and answer the questions he might have. These little things will subconsciously stay in his mind, and help him grow up as a responsible adult.
5. What values you give them
It goes without saying that your child will learn what you teach him. But most importantly, he will learn from what he watches around his house. Of course you would want to teach him to not litter, to clean up after himself, and to respect girls, but there is a thin chance that these lessons will stick if he doesn’t see you practicing what you preach. To really teach him values that are important to you, practice them in front of him unfailingly so he picks up on them. Split the housework with your partner to teach him that girls and boys have equal responsibilities. Pick up after yourself so he understands that he needs to keep his surroundings clean. Start teaching these habits early, because they are hard to change when the child grows up.
6. How much you involve them in decision-making
Yes, they are children and yes, they cannot make important decisions for the home – but that does not mean they shouldn’t be involved! Involving your little one in small, everyday decisions will surely help him build a sense of responsibility and turn him into an adult who makes practical and smart decisions. Watching you and your partner discuss things regarding what to buy, what to repair and change around the house can help him understand how decisions can be made, and he can absorb this habit slowly. If you keep him out of decisions because he is ‘still a child’, there is a chance that he will not take responsibility seriously as an adult, and he will come to you for approval for every little thing.
7. How you react when they are sad
As parents, we may not think much about the trivial things that children get sad about, but that is another thing children keep with them unconsciously. If your child comes to you saying he is sad, talk to him and ask him about what happened. Give him a proper opinion and console him if that is what he wants. If he wants to cry, let him cry – do not tell him ‘ladke nahi rote’ or anything that will stop him from expressing himself, because that is a guaranteed disaster. Dismissing his problems as small will likely make him not come to you with his issues again, and he might look for external sources to solve them.
8. How much you listen to them
Children have active imaginations and lots of things to say – hear them out! You don’t always have to listen to each and every word, and we understand, it can get annoying sometimes – but how you react when they get excited about something is what matters. If you dismiss them all the time and don’t pay attention to them, they will slowly stop telling you things and learn to bottle them up inside. This in turn can lead to them being socially awkward and shy adults that are bad at communicating. Remember to always receive your child’s stories with excitement.
9. How much time you spend with them
We know you are most likely struggling to find quality time to spend with your child. Life is hard – work, stress and other problems can make you prioritize other things over your child sometimes, but try not to let that happen. Even in cases that you have to prioritize work, find creative ways to spend time with your child – call him to your workplace and let him silently play with office supplies while you work, or take him to a park and watch him play while you do some minor work you needed to finish on your laptop. The key is to be present in your child’s life so he doesn’t feel like he doesn’t have anyone, and grow up to develop a sense of dependency on other relationships to deem his worth. A child with a present parent is always a secure one.
Your child is your greatest treasure – take care of him wisely, and with lots of love. He will never forget how you made him feel, and your lessons will go down with him for a lifetime and extend in generations to come.