All month we’ve been talking about how to have happy kids and help them overcome anxiety, this week we’re going to continue that by helping our kids have a sense of significance and value. We want our kids to know that they are an important part of not only our family but also their community and world. All of us want to feel like we belong and our kids are no different, especially when they are growing up and looking for their place.
A key to our children’s security is showing them that they have value. Today I want to talk about a way that we might be DE-valuing our children without even realizing it.
We all know that there are times our children need a minute or sixty to process and consider their actions, but how we give them a time out could make all the difference. We have to be careful that when we give a child a time-out we are not telling them, “I am angry with you, I reject you, and you’ve lost the invitation to be in my presence,” which inadvertently says to them, “You are no longer valuable to me.”
Much of this will depend on our tone and the circumstances.
We may need to consider if they really need a time out or if we’re just overwhelmed and maybe we need a time-out. Sometimes, if we are honest about it, we are the ones that need a break from all the questions and commentary that our little ones can drown us in. So, we want to look at each situation and ask ourselves if it’s a punishable offense or just a frustration. Our reaction could be telling our child that they are not valuable or significant and that they don’t matter to us right now.
Of course we know that is not the truth, we love our children and want them to rest securely in that love. Our kids need to know that our love for them is unconditional; proximity, contact and closeness speak volumes to our children about how much they matter to us and the world around them. When we want them near us it tells them that they are significant. When we hastily send them away from us it could be telling them that they are not valued.
Yes, there will be times when one of both of us needs a time-out, but be careful not to crush their spirit in the process. Let time outs be a discipline for actions but not a rejection of them personally. Sending them away from us out of frustration will send the wrong signal. We don’t want our kids feeling like we don’t like them or that our love for them is conditional based on how good they “perform.” We will have to discipline our children, but we don’t have to de-value them in the process.
Can time-outs hurt our kids? I believe it all depends on whether we leave our kids feeling rejected by us (which is not good) or remorseful for their actions (which is good and beneficial). Of course this is another age-and-stage topic and there is no magic formula for how to handle each situation. Time-outs can be helpful and give a child some time to collect their thoughts, reflect on their actions or just calm themselves down. Follow your heart and instincts, they seem to know how to do this better than the emotions at the moment.
How do you handle these Real Mom (and Dad) moments?
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