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What your kids actually need from you

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

In our society and culture, there are so many pressures put on parents related to what they should be doing for their kids.

We want to be good parents. We want to have good families. We have great intentions and desires for our kids and we (mostly) mean well, but there's a lot of confusion around us about what's right and good and necessary.

Should we give our kids everything that they want and seek to make their lives easy?

Should we deprive our kids and teach them hard lessons about struggle and lack?

Should we make our kids do chores? Should we let them just enjoy their time at home without hard work too early in life?

What kind of discipline do they need? How harsh should we be? What do we do when it seems like they're ungrateful or demanding?

Lots of questions, not very many answers.

But, some things are more clear than others. And this recent article from Psychology Today highlights six things that a child truly needs from their parents.

In a world of gray areas and uncertainty, there are some black-and-white, tried-and-true, proven and reliable facts about what kids actually need in order to be healthy, and in order for families to succeed and move towards a quality life.

Here are those 6 things:

Secure relationships - It's important for your child to have a secure and stable relationship with you, their caregiver. According to the article, this means consistently showing up for them and being present with them, regardless of the activity.

Authoritative parenting - There are many different ways to parent a child, and many different approaches can be helpful, depending on the personality of the specific child. But one thing is important across the board - the importance of setting good boundaries while also being sensitive to your child's needs.

Flexible routines - While predictability in some areas is important (bedtime, waking up, going to school, church, etc.), it's okay to be flexible at times. Don't be afraid of spontaneity. Don't shy away from changes to the schedule. Don't hold so tightly to your routines that you get frustrated with your kids when a deviation occurs.

Balanced meals - The article states that "if your child generally eats a variety of food groups, they're likely getting many of the nutrients they need for healthy development." So, don't sweat when they don't get a full serving of vegetables with every meal, or panic that they ate chocolate two days in a row. If they are generally getting what they need throughout the week, it's all fine.

Chances to explore - Kids need opportunities to explore the world in order to learn about the world. They need to be able to climb trees, dig in the dirt, play in the kitchen cabinets, and "practice" their baking skills. This is how they learn.

Caregivers who can take care of their needs - Above all, kids need to be cared for. And they need to be able to trust the ones who are responsible for caring for them. When the caregiver is stressed, this can affect the child. So, take care of yourself first. Make sure your mental health and wellbeing is in order, so that you can provide the best care for your kids.

The journey of parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, patience, focus, and commitment. Stick with it. Don't give up. And try to enjoy the way your kids are developing, one day, one month, one year at a time, without worrying so much about whether you're doing it "right."

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