If you have found yourself in a rough parenting patch, it is easy to become discouraged or disconnected from you kids. You may find that a vast majority of your interactions are negative. Even though it doesn’t feel good, it can be a difficult pattern to break.
In order to create more warmth and balance in your relationship with your children, it’s important to infuse your interactions with encouragement. Instead of focusing on what you will do less of (“I won’t yell so much”), focus on what you do more of (“I will use more words of encouragement with my kids”).
Here are some examples of situations with words of encouragement you can use with your kids:
- Walking by your son, you pause, bend down, put your hand on his cheek and say, “I am so glad you are in our family. It wouldn’t be the same without you.”
- On the way home from soccer practice, you say, “I really enjoy watching you practice. I can already see the progress you have made this year.”
- You smile and say to your daughter, “I have so much fun doing puzzles with you. I enjoy your company.”
- You place a note in your son’s lunchbox that says, “I love you more than you know.”
- You notice your child being kind to her sibling. You say, “I can see God at work in you when you are kind to your brother like that.”
- After school, you say to your teenage daughter, “I am glad you’re home. I was thinking a lot about you today.”
- In the midst of a meltdown, you say to your child, “Even now, I still love you.”
These may be hard words to say if you are in a rough patch, but try to say them anyway. It’s important to be genuine about it. Older kids (especially teens) can spot a fraud a mile away.
One technique that I like to have parents use to access more tender feelings toward their kids is “compassionate observation.”
This basically means that you unobtrusively observe your children -when the don’t know you are watching them. As you look at them, think of them as a baby, how they felt in your arms when you held them. Think of times when you walked hand-in-hand or when you cuddled on the couch. Remember an achievement or display of godly character that made you beam with pride. This sort of exercise is a bit like tilling a garden bed- it will soften your heart and makes it ready for fresh seeds in your relationship.
These words of encouragement- stemming from a genuine heart of compassion- will help to break down the walls of hurt and anger and build up your relationship – which is the foundation for anything you are trying to achieve as a parent.