We all know that our kids are complex little humans, with different wants, needs, desires and dreams. It's what makes them who they are, and it's what we love and celebrate about them. As parents we want to give them our very best, and most of all, we want to meet their every need- especially those that go unsaid. We want to be great at this parenting thing, and know how to nourish their mind,body, and spirit the best.
Here are some things that your kids might need, but won't ever tell you:
Every child needs us to be patient with them- whether it's allowing for that extra five minutes of gathering toys to bring to grandma's house or allowing them to stop on a walk to pick a dandelion. Kids see the world as something full of wonders to be discovered, pondered, and collected. We could all use a bit more of their unhurried outlook on life, and instead of fighting it, I suggest we celebrate it.
When you show your kids patience, it also teaches them that it's okay for someone to take the time they need to tie their shoes, eat their food, or even read a page from a book. Being patient with your kids can mean they model the patient behavior they've been shown at home, and the world could use more of that!
14 Free Time To Play On Their Own
It's tempting to try and become your child's favorite playmate that is constantly providing fun activities, but it is actually detrimental to their development. Kids need time to use their imagination to create their own play activities, and they learn far more when making discoveries on their own during unstructured play time.
Children should always be supervised- I'm not advocating an adult free environment for a child to play in, but an environment that gives them the freedom to choose their own activity is a great thing. In this space they can express themselves openly, free from judgement, which is what they need to become more self confident.
13 To See You Love Your Partner
Kids need to feel secure, especially at home. One of the ways they feel secure is in the knowledge that the adults in their lives are permanent fixtures. The relationship you share with your partner is the first real example they will have of a loving relationship that goes the distance.
Let them see that you have the utmost respect for your partner, and that both of you are in it for the long haul. It's worth mentioning that there are sure to be occasions when your kids witness disagreements, but this can be healthy too. If the disagreements are handled in healthy ways, it shows kids that relationships are resilient and can still be stable even when both partners don't agree with one another.
Yes, I know they roll their eyes and whine when they hear the word "no." They still need to hear it, and they need to know that you care enough to say it.
A child with healthy boundaries is a child that knows he is worthy of love and protection. Don't try to be a friend to your kids- be their parent first, and their friend second. They might seem like they hate you now, but they'll thank you later.
Children who don't learn boundaries have a harder time advocating for themselves and others. Having boundaries means that your child knows what behaviors are expected of them and you. And when they feel the boundaries should move, they can express their needs to you for consideration.
11 Permission To Feel Their Feelings
It's so tempting to try and stop those tears and the wailing that just...won't...stop. I get it. When a child is feeling anything other than happy, as a parent it is our natural response to try and fix the problem. The thing is, though, that allowing your child to feel what they feel instead of asking them to stop,quit, or put the emotion away, is what will grow your child into an emotionally healthy adult.
Even if the anger is directed at you, allow them to feel it. Validate them when they feel sad, scared, or frustrated. As adults, don't we want the same from others? To be seen and heard in our difficult experiences? Let's do the same for our little ones. It goes a long way in helping them to see that your love is not dependent on their emotional state, too.
10 One On One Time With You
If your child has siblings that divide your attention amongst them, this one is especially important. Children need to feel that they are special to you as an individual, and that you cherish what makes them unique. Let your child choose an activity for just the two of you to do, and watch them relish every moment that your attention is only on them.
Let them see your eyes light up when you talk about how much you enjoy your time with them. Sometimes we all need to know that we are enough, all by ourselves. Having alone time with each child allows them to feel special in your eyes and stops them from feeling like you have favorites. It may even stop sibling rivalry, so take the time to make sure that each of your kids feels special and has some time alone with you.
9 To Hear You Speak Well Of Them
It seems like it always happens when I'm in public with my kids. Some cashier at a store will make a comment about how full my hands are, and how hard it is to shop with kids, and I'm tempted to respond back that they're right- it is SO HARD. This happened the other day, actually, and instead of playing into the expected script, I began telling the cashier what a great help my son is on shopping trips, and how lucky I am to have him.
Kids need to hear that you think highly of them, and you praising them for their goodness to others, instead of sighing in agreement with others that they're difficult at best. Little ears are always listening, and we have control over what they hear us saying about them. Let's make sure that what they hear is building them up instead of destroying their confidence. If we don't believe in them, who will?
Think of yourself at work, wouldn't you feel better about your job or how you work if your boss was saying how impressed they were with you? Of course you would!
8 Friends They Make On Their Own
This might be a non-issue for younger kids, but older children need to make their own friends that have not been pre-arranged through play dates. It's an important step of independence for children to begin to find their identities separate from parents on the playground and at school, and that includes finding playmates that they've chosen for themselves.
Even if their choice in friends makes you shake your head, give their friend a chance so you can understand what it is that your child finds valuable in their friendship. You may just surprise yourself at how much you lie their friends too. After all, at some point you will have no control over your child's circle of friends, all you can do is give advice when they ask for your opinion.
7 Physical Affection
Some kids need more physical affection than others, but they all need to be shown how loved they are. Whether an older child needs a pat on the back after a long school day, or a toddler needs to be held close in a long reassuring hug, it is vital that every child receive physical affection whenever they might need it.
Kids generally don't ask for it, which is why it's so important that we as parents work hard to remember to pepper our days with little hugs and arm squeezes wherever we can. Think back to when your child was a toddler, how much love they showered upon you. Well that love is still there, they're just not remembering to shower you with it every time they feel love for you like they did when they were younger.
6 Words Of Affirmation
All of us love to be told that we have good attributes. We love to be told we are funny, and fun to be around. That we are smart and lovable. That we are knowledgeable and worth listening to. Kids are no different. They need to hear the things about them that cause your heart to burst with love, the things that make your eyes light up- the reasons you feel so blessed that they are yours.
Make sure that your compliments are genuine though, children can tell when they're not. If your child feels like you're not being genuine with them, then it can cause a rift between you two that might be hard to repair. You'd want your child to be real with you, so be real with them. It shows them that you respect them and really do think highly of them to tell them the truth.
Kids need to be relied on. They need to know you trust them to follow through, and that they play a part in helping your household to run smoothly. Whether you give a toddler the task of loading clothes into a laundry hamper (one by one gets the job done), or if you task a preschooler with helping to feed the dog, it is good for kids to know that they can be successful in small tasks that help you out.
Giving your children responsibility means that they can feel good about their achievements, even if it is sweeping the floor, it's something they can take pride in. It also helps your children to mature when you give them age appropriate tasks. You might also surprise yourself and feel pride in your child's accomplishments around the house too!
4 Belongings That Are Just Theirs
If your child is an only child, then this probably isn't an issue. If there are siblings in the home, then this is always an issue. There should be some items that each child can claim as their own that they are not forced to share. Isn't sharing a good idea? Of course it is, but so is allowing your child to have sense of individuality and security in knowing that their most treasured belongings are theirs and theirs alone.
This goes along with the responsibility thing we just went over. When your child has a possession they really care for, it wouldn't be fair to them to force them to share with their younger sibling or even their cousins. That's what makes sharing so incredible, is that you don't have to do it, but you choose to do it. So don't force your children to share their things, especially when it's their special thing.
3 To Not Hear "I Told You So"
Kids are going to make mistakes. Even after we warn them. Even after we've insisted they listen to our vast knowledge, hard earned through our own mistakes. It's inevitable. The one thing your child doesn't need is a parent nodding smugly with the words "I told you so" on the tip of their tongue.
Most likely, they're harder on themselves than you could ever be, and the lesson they've learned is already committed to memory. There's no need to rub it in, or remind them of how you tried to help them avoid it. Give them grace, tell them you've been there too, and offer to put it in the past where mistakes belong.
2 To Get Credit For Their Accomplishments
This little person you've created is so amazing. It's tempting to take credit for each and every amazing thing he or she does, right? You've been the one to read the books, to show him a million times over how to make a soccer goal, and to rehearse those ballet routines with her after every class. It feels odd to not take a little pride in their accomplishments.
The truth is, it is perfectly fine to feel pride for your child's accomplishments, and pat yourself on the back (internally, not to others) for a job well done in helping them to achieve them. What is not ok is taking all of the credit for yourself, and not acknowledging the hard work your child has put into his or her success.
Let your child hear you put all of the praise back onto his or her shoulders when comments are made about the success they've achieved. Later on, I'm willing to bet they'll let you share the spotlight and give you credit for all you've done.
1 To Hear I Love You
You might think that your kids know you love them- after all the things you do for them, they must know, right? Does everything need to be spelled out, all of the time? In this case, yes. Your children need to hear you say that you love them. Blatantly and often.
A parent's love for a child can carry them through hardships at home, school, and in life. Like a billowy net always waiting to catch them if they fall, they need to know that your love is always there, and you're not ashamed to say it or show it.
With all of these unspoken needs being met, I bet your child will feel just as you've always hoped: loved, cherished, and an irreplaceable part of your family.