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By Niki Walls, LSW -December 29, 2020-

Parents and guardians are always searching for answers to questions about raising children in today’s world. While developments in technology and popular culture have changed many aspects of childhood over time, one thing that has not changed is that our children need love from a caring adult more than anything.

Showing love and affection to kids can sometimes seem “easier said than done.” However, love is essential because it enables children to flourish and discover who they are. Love is a word that encompasses many different things as well. Love does not come without consistency, respect, and support.

Children thrive on consistency. They may seem like they hate rules and are resistant to many of the boundaries adults set for them, but in actuality, structure is something they are in dire need of. Consistency can come in many forms; developing routines, having the same discipline techniques as your spouse, and having consistent schedules.

Children generally do not embrace sudden change, so by creating consistency in their lives, you are likely to prevent power struggles and behavioral outbursts. Your children will come to know your expectations and follow them more thoroughly because they will know what the outcome will be if they do not.

In turn, this sets the stage for respect. By giving your kids love and consistency, you are being respectful of your children and meeting them at their level. Children are more likely to respect the adults they feel respected by.

Start with trying to understand and validate their feelings when an issue arises. Take yourself back to when you were their age and remember how this particular issue would have made you feel. The more give and take there is in the conversation, the more your child will respect you and feel open with you.

Support is another aspect that is encompassed under love as well. Children often look to someone who will recognize and praise them for their accomplishments. Do not blow off or joke around about something that they are proud of. Encourage your children’s natural

passions and interests; do not push yours on them. Be an ear if they need someone to talk to and guide them as they actively seek advice. Children generally let you know if you have overstepped your bounds; pay attention to them.

If you start with love, you are likely to naturally encompass all of the rest of the suggestions on your own. Take the time to really get to know your kid to the core, not just the surface level version of them. Learn from your past parenting mistakes and the mistakes your parents made raising you. We all have room to grow and build better parenting versions of ourselves.

By Jaclyn Durnil, MSW – Dec. 3, 2019

“If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy.” – Kristen Chenowith

Why is it so difficult to love ourselves? Basically, the short answer to this question is that we were raised in a society that didn’t teach us about self-love. This may not seem very important to some, but self-love is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Loving yourself provides you with self-confidence, self-worth, and in general, you feel more positive. If you can learn to love yourself, you will feel happier and will learn to take better care of yourself.

Looking in the mirror, most of us see a lot of different flaws and remember too many past experiences and failings to love ourselves. The less you love yourself, listen to yourself, and understand yourself, the more confused, upset, and frustrated you will be in life. When you begin to love yourself and continue to love yourself more and more each day, things slowly will be a little bit better in every way possible.

Unfortunately, self-love isn’t always easy. 

Accepting the pain and allowing yourself to be honest with who you are is a big step to loving yourself. Forgive yourself for past actions and things you are ashamed of doing.

Carrying a lot of negative emotions like jealousy, disgust, and rage can have a negative impact. We need to learn how to accept not only the emotions that create love, joy, and happiness but also the ones that cause fear, insecurity, and anger in our lives.

While we need to learn how to acknowledge and accept the pain with the love, another step is reconciling with a cold and unopened heart. Asking yourself if you fully love yourself can be very difficult because you must accept your flaws and faults.

Love is something we choose, the same way we choose anger, hate, or sadness. We have the power to forgive someone who has hurt us in the past. We can learn to finally heal from something when we can forgive. We can always choose love.

Learning to love yourself leads to better self-care. Examples of this could be taking a break from time to time and accepting that no one is perfect and things happen.

Another example could be saying no to others when you really don’t have the time or energy to say yes. We often do too much for other people because we want to please everyone. We can forget to look after ourselves and then we become overwhelmed.

Today is the day you can love yourself completely with no expectations. Making the choice right now to choose your own love is the most powerful healing force you have.

By Jana Pritchett, Communications Manager – December 17, 2018

Christmas is almost here, and kids everywhere are hoping to be on Santa’s good list.  Interactive toys like the Nintendo Switch and Hatchimals are on many kids’ lists, as are classics like Legos, Play-Doh and Barbie.

We all hope to give our children the presents they want, but what do our kids really need from adults this holiday season?  What gifts can mom, dad or grandparents provide to help them become happy, healthy, successful adults?

Here is my list of the essentials:

  1. Security and stability. Kids need the basics – food, shelter, clothing, medical care and protection. In addition, a stable home and family environment make them feel safe, and being part of a family gives them a sense of belonging.
  2.  Full attention. Be present. Turn off your phone, the TV, and all gadgets and listen to them, especially at meal times and bedtime. Removing distractions lets them know they’re special and there’s no need to compete for your attention.
  3. Time. Spend quality family time together.  Take the whole family to pick out a Christmas tree or to see a ballgame or holiday concert. Take each child on mom and dad “dates” to create special memories and boost their self-esteem, especially if they’re used to sharing parent time with siblings. Spending quality time together encourages deeper conversations and strengthens the bonds between parent and child.
  4. Love. Saying and showing your kids you love them can help overcome just about any parenting “mistake” you might make. Even when your kids have disappointed, frustrated, angered or disobeyed you, they must know you will always love them.
  1. Affection. Don’t wait for your children to come to you for hugs. Regular physical affection helps strengthen and maintain your emotional connection with kids of any age. When that bond is strong, kids act out less often and know they can come to you for support. 
  1. Emotional support. Through good and bad times, kids must know you are there for them. According to Dr. Harley Rotbart of Children’s Hospital Colorado, “Parents’ words and actions should facilitate kids’ trust, respect, self-esteem, and ultimately, independence.”

  2. Consistency. Parents need to work together to enforce rules. Important values should not be compromised for the sake of convenience or because the kids have worn you down. If parents are no longer married, mom and dad should still try to communicate and work together whenever possible to maintain consistency.
  3. Positive role models. Parents are their kids’ first and most important role models. Kids see plenty of bad behavior in the media. Be the kind of person you want them to become and don’t just give “lip service” to good behavior.
  4. Education. Give your kids the best possible shot for their future by stressing the importance of education. Providing guidance and teaching them life lessons during the time you spend together is also important.

Spending quality time with your kids is the best solution for just about any parenting dilemma. This holiday season and in the New Year, don’t stop with what’s on your child’s wish list. Give them what they really need – the gift of being the best parent you can be.