and finally . . .
• Be Quick to Forgive – When your child comes to you, head hung low and apologizes for his mistakes, simply offer him forgiveness (and do it with a hug or a touch). Do not rehash the situation or demean him for his behavior. Let it go. A child needs to have the freedom to make mistakes and be valued enough not to have his prior failures continually brought back up. There will be occasions when it is appropriate to have continued dialogue about what happened, but set a time for that. “Hey son, would after dinner be a good time to talk about happened?” You want him to be quick to repent, but if he fears a lecture or criticism when he does, he’ll stop coming to you.
• Express Anger in a Respectful Way – It is vital that we teach our kids how to express anger in a way that maintains the connection with others. This will come primarily through our example. People stop listening when they feel defensive. Using “I” statements to express frustration (rather than “you”), speaking in a controlled tone, and not throwing blame will help the other person really listen. If your child starts interrupting, raises his voices, or gets agitated, re-evaluate the way you express your anger and see if one of these elements needs to be adjusted.
• Be Affectionate – Touch your children frequently. Snuggle and cuddle when they are little. Maybe your older kids don’t want to snuggle while you watch a movie with them. Then find ways to express your affection at other times: a touch on the shoulder as you pass in the kitchen, a quick rub on the back as they are doing their homework, a quick tousle of the hair as a youngster rushes past. Loving touch expresses acceptance and caring. Find ways to convey your affection for them.
• Let Go – Your child is an individual—created in God’s image—not ours. Children are not meant to be mommy or daddy clones. Your kids will think and operate in ways unique to them. Celebrate and encourage those differences. God has a plan for your child. We don’t want to divert them onto the plan of our own design, but rather help them be all God created them to be.
Hug them tight!