We want the best for our children and we have a long list of goals that we need to achieve to feel that we have succeeded at giving them the best.
This post is here to remind you that no matter what is on your list or how long it is, having and keeping a free and safe channel of communication should be in your top three if not even your top one with highlights, underlines, and stars.
Children will make mistakes. It is part of growing up. Most mistakes are simple and easy to fix. As these children grow and gain independence, their mistakes will also gain complexity. They should always feel safe coming to you for help. Always!
If they know that you are a safe a trusted resource who will always be there to help and support them no matter how small the problem is, then they will also come running to you because you are a safe and trusted resource who will be there to help and support them when there is a big problem.
There will be problems along their way that are too big for them to handle. That's inevitable. If you are not available because you broke their trust or are too busy or too disconnected from their world, they will look for help elsewhere and bring home much bigger problems.
How to build a communication channel with your child?
1. Make time for your child
Family time is important, but what I mean here is 1:1 time with your child.
Go for a walk or treat. Listen and engage with questions or short comments, but mostly listen.
Don't let distractions get in the way. You are investing in your child's trust, a cause worthy of your full attention.
If you have more than one child, make time for 1:1 with each one of them.
2. Do not judge
When your child comes to you with a problem, offer your full attention and do not judge.
Offer your child a safe space to brainstorm the problem and try to find a solution.
If you know the solution won't work, offer to share your experience and see if your child has a solution for the flaws in the plan.
Young child? No problem. Give them 2 good options and let them choose.
They should also learn to accept consequences of their decisions without any "I told you so" feedback from you.
3. Share your experiences too
When you have a problem that can be shared in a developmentally appropriate way, share it with your child and ask for help on how to fix it.
Give your child a chance to help you sometimes!
4. Show appreciation
That's your way of confirming that your child is moving in the right direction.
Let your child know that you are proud of their achievements. When you see your child doing something right, acknowledge it. We are very good at telling our children when they are doing something wrong. It is just as important to tell them when they are doing something right. No need for exaggeration either way, simply pointing it out is powerful enough.
5. Unconditional Love
I am usually not a big fan of fluffy romantic advice, but in this case, it is crucial.
No, I don't mean spoil your children rotten.
I mean be there to support them and advocate for them no matter what.
Always remember that no matter how big the mistake is, it is the mistake that you don't like, not your child!
Children will make mistakes. There is no way around that. The biggest gift that you can ever give your children is the reassurance and trust that no matter what, they can always run to you for help.