What is nurturing? Nurturing is essentially developing a secure bond between your child and yourself. I’m going to give you ten ways to nurture your children. Some of them you may not have thought of before, many of them may be things you are already doing.
One: Look your child in the eyes when they are speaking to you.
This may seem like something I put here just to illicit an eye roll response form you but I assure you that it is not the case.
Maintaining meaningful eye contact as your child speaks shows them that they are valuable to you. That they are worthy of your time, attention and focus.
Two : Love them Unconditionally
Basically, love them even when you don’t feel especially loving. Don’t withhold your encouragement when they are struggling in an area. Don’t withhold love, adoration or respect as a means of manipulating your child into a certain behavior. Your child shouldn’t have to achieve in a realm you deem valid- academics, sports, beauty – before you accept them. Your child is valuable simply because they are a person. As people, we are created in the image of God. That gives each person worth simply by virtue of existence. Let’s try to love our small people accordingly.
Three: Be empathetic.
Your friend’s problems are your problems. You empathize about their unfair boss, their stretched too thin paycheck, and their overbearing mother in law…
Our children should be counted among our greatest friends. We should empathize with their struggles. I’m not advocating for overindulgence or coddling them. I’m saying that when they are struggling to learn to speak correctly, we are gentle with them. And when we correct them, we make sure to encourage them at the same time.
Empathy doesn’t mean we give them the permission to have a come- apart over every broken toy from the dollar spot. Rather, it means relating to them on their terms.
Saying things along the lines of “ I’m sorry your friend ignored you today. That must feel really hurtful.”
Let’s make sure that we aren’t quickly brushing aside all of their fears and concerns.
This relates to valuing our children, as well.
Four: Don’t lie to your children
Don’t lie to your children. Ever. Instead, aim to develop a strong bond with them, built on a secure foundation of trust.
As their parent, you are their number one means of support. You are their advocate. When you lie to them, this completely undermines the foundational level of trust .
How hard is it to trust a friend or parter when they lie to you?
We don’t want to put our kids in that position.
Five : Be a Soft Place to Land
Physically, mentally, ,emotionally. Welcome their comments, questions and concerns. Hear them out. Be that comfort and supper system for them. Be proactive about meeting their need so there isn’t a huge deficit that you have to fill.
Some examples ; physically maybe they need an extra ten minutes of snuggling before bedtime. Emotionally perhaps they simply need for you to listen without judgement or rushing to explain your opinion on a topic.
Six : Foster Meaningful Conversation
Each day. Let’s commit to each other that we are going to follow through on this.
When? At breakfast, in the car on the way to school, dinner time… the time of day is not nearly as important as insuring that we are having meaningful conversations with our children on a regular basis.
Learn about your child.
They are a separate entity. They may have come forth from your womb, but they aren’t a miniature you.
They have their own needs. Give your chickened what they need. Not what you need. Not even what you think they need. Give them what they need. Being a student of your child is helpful to this. Much ink has been spilled over love languages and personality types, and these are well and good and sometimes even immensely helpful.
But – spoiler alert – your child’s emotional needs will be pretty basic. They won’t be the emotional equivalent of trigonometry. Being seen, heard, understood, loved…. These are what our kids from us.
8: Ask your children “what makes you feel loved” periodically.
I do this about once a year. Often, I think I know as a parent what my kids value, how they feel loved.l, specifically how they receive love .
And each time they say something that surprises me, something I hadn’t considered or hadn’t realized meant much to them.
Nine: Teach them something each and everyday.
Awaken their curiosity. Read books. Do projects. Provide opportunities for them to learn and explore. A vital part of child development, of humanity’s development, is learning about the world around us. Give them opportunities to do just that.
Play classical music. Take them to an art museum. Read Shakespeare. These are eye- opening delights. And your child isn’t too young to experience them. We listen to classical music not because we want to few supine to others, but because classical music is timeless and widens the imagination. We don’t have to attend art lectures or have a degree to enjoy really beautiful paintings. And neither do our kids!
Ten : Spiritual Development
Spiritual development. This one of the main commands given to parents in the Bible. We are told to diligently teach our children about God and His ways.
At the end of the day- we’re going to fail our kids. We are. And I know for many of us that’s not what we want to hear. But it’s the truth. We’re going to mess up. Focus on the wrong things sometimes. Sometimes because of tragedy or stress we don’t show up for our kids like we should. We let teachable moments slip by because we are distracted .
We are human.
God alone is the perfect parent. If our kids knownHim, they know a loving Father who is never going to abandon them.
And really, what could possibly be more nurturing than that?