How do you show your child that you love him? Warm hugs when he wakes up in the morning? A constant shower of ‘I love you’s? While all these are wonderful acts, you should understand that the expression of love also comes when you fulfil your child’s basic needs. We are not talking about food and shelter, but his need for security, self-worth and significance:
Love your child unconditionally. Let him rest securely in the fact that you love him no matter what the situation, no matter how well or badly he behaves. There are times when your child will drive you up the wall. When that happens, you must stay calm. You can effectively discipline him with a firm voice, take away his privileges or mete a “time-out”. Whatever you do, it is important that you address the actions and behaviours, not attack him as a person. He must be assured that, despite his mistakes, mom and dad still love and accept him.
With self-worth come self-esteem and confidence. Recognise and value your child’s unique personality from young. Start involving him – even from as early as one year old – in family conversations and playtime with the older children. Praise your child when he succeeds at something – for instance, walking on his own. Encourage and help him learn new skills. And if he interrupts your conversation with others, do not dismiss him. Excuse yourself, give him a hug and tell him you will be with him shortly – and be sure to keep your promise.
While you should be caring and loving towards your child, you should avoid being over-protective. Over-protected children tend to be less independent, so do entrust your child with some responsibilities to give him a sense of significance and achievement. For instance, get your three year old to pick up his toys, leave used cups in the kitchen sink or throw food wraps into the dustbin.
WHY DO CHILDREN MISBEHAVE?
When a child misbehaves, it is usually due to one of these three needs not being met. Your child needs constant reassurance, so make it a point to demonstrate to him that you and your spouse will always be there to love him no matter what happens.