Seeing Your Children Clearly
We all know that 20/20 implies perfect vision, and with the year 2020 upon us, we thought it might be fun to see how it applies to the way we look at our children. We all want to see our children clearly, to understand them as individuals, assess how they fit into our family dynamic and evaluate how they will function outside of it. But seeing your child with objectivity is no small task. Big things (like love) get in the way of being objective. The love filter is magical and should certainly be nurtured but knowing how to see your child’s strengths and weaknesses can go a long way toward raising successful individuals who navigate life well as adults.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking at your children and evaluating development:
How well do they communicate? The ability to communicate well is essential to mastering important skills. Does your child speak with respect? Are they quick to anger, responding with shouting or sullen silence? Are they kind and able to show empathy for others? Can they negotiate stressful situations or speak up when they need help? Careful observation of these things will give you the input you need to seek help or stay the course. Always make sure that your children know you are there to listen and to be supportive as they grow emotionally and fine-tune their physical and verbal communication.
How do they compare to others physically? Children come in all shapes and sizes, but believe it or not, physical differences can impact their social and intellectual development. For example, larger children with height and weight off the growth charts may have challenges at school because people expect them to behave “older” than they are because of their stature. Conversely, smaller children may not be challenged enough or given a behavioral pass because they seem to be younger than their peers, based on the way they look.
Are they confident or tentative? Verbal and physical development ties into confidence. Acknowledging courage and common sense is a great way to encourage a child to try new things and experience the unknown. If your child is anxious and nervous, it’s important to see this and not view it as a weakness. Letting a child know it’s okay to be unsure and then gently challenging them to try something new is healthy. If you are blessed with a confident and assertive child, help them walk the line between potential extremes with active support or gentle redirection when necessary.
Don’t be that parent. We all know them—parents with no concept that their child is a bully, overly emotional, rude, or selfish. These parents lack objectivity, and it rarely ends well for either side of the equation. How do you know if you have a child with those challenges? Other parents, family members, and teachers will communicate that to you. Ask the hard questions and be prepared for answers. What you decide to do with those impressions is up to you—but ignoring input or chalking it up to a snap judgment will do no one any favors. You want your children to have friends and to develop healthy long-term relationships with others, which is why honest assessment is so important.
Honesty is hard. No one wants to acknowledge problems. We all want perfect kids—but if you’re honest about your children you can help them overcome weaknesses and experience the success, they need to be the best version of themselves. Again, seek the observations of their teachers, parents of playmates and other relatives who spend time around your children. Once you see a pattern, develop a plan with a professional to redirect and to inspire change.
You can do this! In the end, taking a good, long look at your children is one of the most loving things you can do. Make it your mission to see the nuances and subtle behaviors that arise as they grow. Kids lack the self-awareness to understand themselves, so you must take on that task and help them stay on course for a successful adulthood.