SHOWING UNCONDITIONAL LOVE TO YOUR CHILD
When your child behaves as you expect, you love her unconditionally, but when she starts to drive you crazy, it might be more challenging to keep loving her unconditionally. However, your child needs this type of love at all times and in all circumstances. She needs to know she is lovable exactly as she is, that she is not expected to be perfect, and that being sad, angry, frustrated, or disappointed is what makes us human.
Here are a few ideas to show your child unconditional love:
1. Accept her feelings and put limits on her behavior. Demonstrating empathy toward your child makes her feel understood and accepted for who she is. For instance, say: “She knocked over your tower and you worked so hard on it, you are mad!” Remember that empathizing with your child does not mean you endorse her behavior. Reinforce the limits and offer other solutions. For example, say: “You know hitting hurts, so no hitting. So, what can you do instead? Let’s practice.”
2. Understand your child’s perspective. There is a reason behind your child’s misbehavior. It could be an unmet need or an upset feeling. If you address the underlying reason, there will be a change in your child. Maybe your child is worried to lose his special place in your heart since her little brother was born or maybe she needs help to learn some better strategies to keep track of things so she does not lose them. When you start putting yourself into your child’s shoes, then suddenly her misbehavior seems comprehensible and forgivable.
3. Love the child you have instead of trying to make her into someone else. Your job is to nurture your child so that she can blossom in her environment. Every child needs to be appreciated for who she is. Your daily support is one of the most essential factors in her development. If you find it hard, then take time to process the grief over the child you wanted and did not get. You are allowed to have these feelings, but you need to take responsibility to work them through and not let them impact your child negatively. When you see your child positively, only then can she see herself positively as well.
4. Use connection and repair rather than punishment. Every time a child is punished, she does not feel loved. Research shows that children who are disciplined with love withdrawal techniques, misbehave more. Your child does not need punishments, instead she needs to have limits set by her parents. When something gets broken, object or relationship, then you work with her using empathy, reconnection, and repair. Over time, your child will develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and sense of morality.
“Accept the children the way we accept trees—with gratitude, because they are a blessing—but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change, you love them as they are.”
― Isabel Allende
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.