When our children are first born we look at them in awe. We’ll sit and stare at them, falling deep into their eyes. For many of us it’s hard to put these moments into words. Often times we don’t know what we see but we know it’s the best feeling in the world. As our children grow up there are less opportunities for that type of lengthy gazing. Heck my kids won’t sit still long enough to eat some food let alone for me to ponder their souls. However, that same feeling we had when we were able to sit and stare is still there.
While in those moments we were seeing with our eyes we were actually aware on a much deeper level. That awareness allowed us to see their inherent qualities and all that is good and true about them. Some of the inherent qualities I talk about are lovable, valuable, worthy, precious, creative, beautiful, and many others. These qualities look familiar to us because even though sometimes we question their validity they are all true about us as well. Inherent qualities may be dismissed or denied but they are with us at birth and never leave.
As our children get older there are plenty of reminders about what is “wrong” with them or how they need to perform or do things beyond just being themselves to gain attention, affection, acceptance, and appreciation. This sets the stage for them as they get older to go find ways to feel loved, lovable, etc. Perhaps if we appreciated those inherent qualities in them a little more often they would know that they don’t need to search past themselves to find love. Just maybe when they received messages from others like they’re stupid, or ugly, or unworthy, etc. they would question them instead of learning to accept them.
In the very least, I can’t think of many better ways to honor your child and help them to establish a sense of self than giving them appreciations. Appreciations can be kept very simple and would probably work best when they are not in the middle of “doing something”. I advocate this approach only because you may not want to associate them having to do something (ie; painting, cleaning, performing) in order to be appreciated for who they are. This is a time for them to be reminded of what’s true about them regardless of what they do. Again, this deeper level of awareness is a reflection of their “being” not their “doing”. Just before they go to bed at night would be a great time to let them know that you appreciate how creative, loving, lovable, valuable, precious, curious, and smart they are. These are just a few examples of what you might appreciate about them. When they are old enough you might want to write a few out and have them read them to themselves. Hearing themselves remind them can resonate even deeper.
In a world where we can guarantee we’ll be hearing a lot of false things about ourselves isn’t it nice to know that a simple reminder of what is true can go a long way? What are some ways you’ve found to remind your children what’s true about them?