The Greatness Gift

The Greatness Gift

dad close to daughterNathalie Bowman

If you’ve ever been around a newborn baby, you know there is something special about that perfect, new little life. Each new little person born has their own unique personality and is filled with love and the potential to succeed at life. It’s beautiful to hold a new baby and feel the wonderful possibilities of life awaiting them. But wait, they grow up. They may become fussy toddlers, trying young kids, or rebellious teenagers. It seems their potential and zest for life has gone right out of them. What happened?

Little children have an innate ability to love and are quick to forgive. However, when a parent consistently nags, criticizes, tells a child they’re wrong, or dismisses their emotions, the child’s trust and love start to fade and they are less likely to confide in or connect with their parents because they don’t feel loved or accepted as they are.

I used to be really good at nagging and criticizing. I’ve learned my lesson. That kind of behavior pushes children away. Even though we, as parents, really care about our children and are just trying to help them succeed through letting them know they’re wrong and how to do it right, that kind of interaction is not good for the child or for the relationship. So, the child grows up losing confidence in themselves and wondering if they’re loveable.

Children also lose their confidence and may become cranky or rebellious because of influences outside the home. They may have issues at school with being rejected by friends, feeling like teachers don’t like them or think they’re smart enough, they may be teased, or experience any number of negative things. Life throws out a lot of challenges and children need to know that when they are home, they are safe to unload to mom or dad and they will be loved and encouraged through their experiences.

There are many ways to overcome this dilemma of how to help a child feel confident and able to overcome their challenges. Many books have been written on the subject. With all the information available, sometimes it gets confusing as to what exactly to do and where to begin.

Start with this one idea. It’s called the “Greatness Gift”. If you have a difficult time connecting with your child, this will help you, as well as your child.

When you tuck your child in bed, look them in the eye, and tell them what’s great about them. You can hold their hands if you both feel comfortable doing so, and tell them what you love about them. Tell them, “I am the luckiest mom (or dad) in the world to have you as my son (or daughter).” Then go on to tell them the great things you see in them. Be careful not to say “I love it when…” or “I like ….. about you” too often because then it makes the conversation more about you than them. Try to focus your words on them.

If this feels uncomfortable or you don’t know what to say, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • “You are a great problem solver. You’re always trying to figure things out.”
  • “You light up the room with your smile. Thank you for being so cheerful!”
  • “You have such a gift for helping others”
  • “Your mind is so smart. You really think things through”
  • “You always have nice things to say to others”

There are as many wonderful things to say to kids as there are kids. Another fun thing to do here is to ask your children what they want to hear you say. Each child is different and knowing exactly what fills their love bucket is a great place to start.

Commit to doing this several times a week. If you have more than one child, do one child a night, and if you can’t do it every night, make the effort to do it several times a week. If bedtime doesn’t work, choose another time-before or after school may be better for you. Don’t let this overwhelm you, it’s just a simple place to start that will improve your relationship with your children.

If your children are grown and gone, give them a phone call and say, “You know what I love about you?” Then tell them. Then hang up. This is for no other conversation except just to tell them you love them and you see the greatness in them. If your relationship isn’t very good, and you’re not seeing much greatness at the moment, remember them as a child. What were your favorite things about them? They still have great potential-it may just be dormant. Remind them of who they really are-the greatness within them.

I just started doing this, and because my old patterns as a mom were critical, this has been a good challenge for me and is changing the way I see my children. I encourage you to start giving your children a “greatness gift” today.

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