Of course you love your children. Duh. Hugs, kisses, snuggles, I love you’s. Said and done. But ever get the feeling there might be something more you can do? There is. And it’s actually quite simple. All listed below.
Ever read or watched The Nanny Diaries? That was me a few years ago. I was a nanny in NYC. And my experiences were similar to those written about in the book. Never read or watched it? Let me tell you about it. Not the book. I’ll tell you about my personal experience being a nanny at age 18 and 19. Why would you want to know? Because in the end, you’ll know how to really love your children. The kind of love they want and need from their moms, well and dads too.
The summers after high school graduation and after my freshman year at college I was a small town girl in the big city, New York City to be exact. Both time I nannied the same family. A father who worked all day and night. A mother who stayed at home but still had a nanny and a maid. Two boys and a girl, aged 8, 7 and 1. They lived in a nice home, drove extravagant cars and had everything they ever wanted. Everything except love.
How could I tell there wasn’t enough love in that family? I could tell because the boys would be in tears when the dad left for work each day, and all they wanted was their dad to throw a ball with them. Although the mom was home with the children, she spent most of her time getting herself groomed, shopping or talking to her friends on the phone. The parents purchased anything the children wanted – bikes, roller blades, basketballs, baseballs – but didn’t teach them how to use it. It all sat in a pile of other never been used things their parents bought them. No sign of affection at all in that family.
Then the only time the wife and kids had with the father was when he scheduled once a week lunch or dinner with them. The whole family dined at a fancy restaurant, nanny in tow of course, and ate a meal in dead silence. The mom and dad sat away from each other and had nothing to say unless they were disagreeing. I eventually learned the father was having an affair and the mother knew about it.
Being the nanny, the kids were afraid to get close to me because they were afraid to love or accept anyone. They were rejected by their own parents for love and affection. However, once they warmed up to me, they were thirsty for attention. They were attached to me at all times because I gave them what all children long for – love.
I knew I would be different with my own children. And I am. But sometime, I need a good reminder of the basic needs of my kids. Love. And not in any form that can be bought.
1. Teach them something new.
They are fascinated by new things. Teach them a new skill and you will grow closer to them.
2. One-on-one time.
Even when they are teenagers. They may not act like they want to hang out with their parents, but they need that undivided attention from you every once in a while.
3. Listen intently.
Just listen to what they have to say without giving feedback or comments unless asked. As parents, we tend to jump in and try to fix things or correct them when they are wrong or give them our opinion on everything. Stop. And then listen.
4. Put the spotlight on them.
Not in a way that is embarrassing. Spotlight them with the things they are good at doing. It will make them feel special.
5. Goof off with them.
A great excuse for you to act like a child. Let loose. Get dirty. Act silly.
6. Encourage their talents.
Talents don’t have to be in the form of singing, dancing or art. I can come in forms of communication, listening, writing, math, curiosity and even generosity. Help them strengthen their talents.
7. Cut them some slack.
It is not easy being a kid or teen these days. Allow them do to some things their way, even if it is not your preferred way. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way.
8. Be interested in their interests.
They will go through phases of special interests. Learn it with them. Take part in their creativity and imagination.
9. Take them to a new place.
Go out. See new things. Learn something new. They will remember the experience when they are old. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy – a new park, an ice cream shop, a museum, a hike.
10. Build confidence.
Kids need to know who they are. They need to know they are loved. They need to believe in themselves. Help them succeed. Help them learn from their mistakes. Help them have faith in themselves. It will make a difference in the rest of their lives.
Tell me… How does your children like to be loved?