I realized, one day, in my early stages of studying child development through my Psychology degree that taking care of a child is no easy task.
Children are in need of a caregiver who can model for them what it is to be a human being who is kind, compassionate, and loves themselves
Alas, so many times, this is not what a child receives. Nor is it what we received as a child.
What shall we do, then? How should we ensure that our children turn out the best that they can be?
5 Great Traits for all beings to have:
Children thrive when they are around caregivers who understand the benefits of loving without expectation. Without role models who can both give and receive love openly, a child will not learn how to do one or the other.
The wonderful thing, however, about children is their resilience. Their strength. How they keep coming back to us time and time again no matter what because that is all they know how to do.
Unconditional love does not equate with perfection. No human is what we like to call "perfect". No human has all of their stuff together and spends 24/7 happy as a rainbow. Every human, though, has the capacity to love and the strength to accept what comes at them and work through it. (Whether we are able to believe that or not.)
Some of my key methods to empower children:
1) Connection. Eye-level is important so that they can hear and see you as an equal.
2) When they lose or fail at something, say the words, "That's okay. You did a great job doing ________. Let's try again!" (I find it important to say "Let's" instead of "Try again" so that they feel safe enough to try again instead of forced.)
3) Just as you may give yourself a pep talk each morning before your day starts (especially on particularly not-so-great days), it is important to do the same for them. Even saying something such as, "Have a great time with others!" or giving a high-five or hug or thumbs-up is wonderful.
4) Laugh with them (and, most importantly, learn to laugh at yourself). Laughter is such a mood-changer and even a day-changer. Take a situation and turn it around to see the positive from it :)
5) Show them how you empower yourself. Show them how you get to take care of yourself when you are sick, when you enjoy life, when you celebrate the small wins, and how you try to shift your mindset to focus on what is most important when something unexpected happens.
6) Teach them a new skill and watch how they learn that skill and then teach it to themselves with practice. See just how amazing they feel when they realize that they can do something all on their own. This is TRUE empowerment and independence: inner confidence.
7) Lastly, and most importantly, physical touch is importantly with children--especially growing babies, infants and toddlers. When they do not receive physical touch in the form of a hug or cuddle, they learn later on in life that they really are in need of that; and in turn, look to others (friends, romantic partners) and associate physical touch with love and also self-worth.
I find sometimes that parents worry about either doing and giving too much to their children or not giving enough.
What I have to say about this is:
You will know when it is too much or too little by your child's behavior. Either way, all a child will need is love.
If you are doing too much for the child, then they will not learn independence.
If you are doing too little for the child, then they will not learn how to do what it is you want them to do.
Balance is key :)