Everyone, including children, needs appreciation. Yet there are growing signs that, instead of being appreciated, many children are being neglected, bullied, or even worse.
Child abuse touches every area, race, and economic level with the number of reported cases skyrocketing.
These are national problems that point out the importance of being highly appreciative of children. What does this require of parents? Some of the key elements are understanding children, spending time with them on activities you both enjoy, listening carefully to what they say, and recognizing their deeds with simple verbal appreciation.
Recently a mother of two young children realized how much she valued her children. She had been bothered for months by a difficult family problem. Despite her strong desire to remain calm, one afternoon she found herself yelling at and scolding the children. Suddenly she felt a small pair of arms around her waist as her daughter quietly said, “It’s all right, mommy. I love you. Remember to save your best behavior for home!” Then they both laughed, and the mother told her seven-year-old how much she appreciated the loving encouragement.
This mother’s appreciation was not abstract or kept to herself, but was expressed in a concrete way that her child could understand. If her response had been less than encouraging, the child may have held back from helping her mother or someone else in future situations. Obviously children will want to repeat what brought them appreciation from their parents.
How often do we stop to thank our children for something they have said or done? Perhaps it may be as significant as defusing an explosive atmosphere, yet aren’t there many ways we can appreciate children every day if we don’t focus on criticizing their mistakes, messiness, manners, etc.?
Not that a child shouldn’t be corrected, but that, too, can be done so it doesn’t undermine a child’s sense of self-worth and dignity.
Most young children, for instance, show a genuine eagerness to help around the home. Do we recognize their desire to make a contribution or avoid their assistance knowing that a chore will take longer if they are involved? If young children are never allowed to help in practical ways, they are apt to turn into teenagers that “never help around the house.”
More than appreciating the comments, chores, achievements, etc. that seem so important, we can ask ourselves if we cherish children just for being themselves, apart from what they do. Do we understand children enough to appreciate their childlike qualities, their own uniqueness, their individual way of learning and developing? Cultivating a universal love and appreciation for children merits our close attention as adults today.