We asked local experts for tips on how Katy parents can keep up with their children's emotional, social, and personal growth. Here's our checklist of the top 25!
KATY MAGAZINE | September 2018
By Ashley Lancaster
Sometimes crazy schedules and demanding jobs can make us feel like we're doing the bare minimum in the parenting department. Here's a fun, easy checklist based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to keep you on track raising healthy, happy Katy kiddos.
1. Encourage positive self talk
Have your children write down a list of positive and encouraging thoughts that target aspects of their life that are important to them, or that relate to goals they want to meet. Reinforcing positive thoughts not only combats negative self-talk and self-doubt, but over time it boosts confidence, self-esteem, and helps them achieve great things!
2. Be happy
Have you ever felt like there are days when you just wake up stressed out and frustrated? It seems that on those days when you're already in a "bad mood", the rest of the home is, too. Well it's not a coincidence. Extensive research has shown that children literally take cues from their parents on what their day will be like. If you're happy, they will be too! This means taking time for yourself, creating a margin of error and grace for mistakes and slip ups, and positive thinking.
3. Eat meals together
Regularly eating meals together not only gives you time to chat with the kids in the , it gives them the energy and nutrition they need to get through their day.
"Any time you have an opportunity, encourage your family to unplug and sit together at the table during mealtime. While it is not always feasible with after school activities, strive for eating at least one meal together at the dinner table every day, or as often as possible. Eating together with no interruptions creates an opportunity to teach and learn important life and social skills as well as to encourage family discussion and bonding. Taking the time to listen and learn about your child’s day and share your own shows them that you value their thoughts and enjoy their company," says Rachel Copeland, a Certified Child Life Specialist.
4. Be consistent
"Children feel safe and protected when they understand what is going to happen, when it is going to happen and why it is happening. Predictable schedules, consistent rules and discipline, clearly understood expectations, as well as encouraging honest and open discussion, providing words of affirmation, dependability, active listening, providing frequent positive attention, spending time together, the expectation of unconditional love and lots of hugs all show a child that they are loved, important and special," says Copeland.
If you say it, you've got to mean it. Whether it's going to bed at a certain time or knowing consequences of their actions, consistency gives children security and comfort.
5. Emphasize Good Manners
In order to raise respectful adults, they have to start out as children who respect their elders and people in authority. Emulate that example by teaching them to reply respectfully to the elderly, law enforcement, family members, teachers, coaches and being polite and well-mannered to anyone they come in contact with.
6. Avoid discussing adult matters in front of them
Let kids be kids and not have to overhear all of life's adult matters. If it's possible, keep discussions of finances, marital strife, problems with in-laws, etc. behind closed doors. Kids feel safer when they aren't privy to information intended only for adults in the family.
7. Keep their appointments
Dental cleanings, doctor's visits, and even therapy where needed help children feel safe and cared for, and help them develop good hygiene habits.
8. Don't Overschedule Them
Kids can handle a lot, but sometimes we get so focused on seeing them succeed that we may not noticed that they are stretched way too thin to do so. School, friends, athletics and too many added activities can be overdone. Copeland tells Katy parents what signs kids will show when they are overwhelmed.
"Stress reactions can include physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches and frequent colds, as well as behavior changes such as frequent meltdowns, anger, becoming more clingy, over and under eating, sleep problems or changes, nightmares or night terrors, panic attacks, anxiety, isolating themselves, depression, crying, loss of focus, and an inability to concentrate. New behaviors of previously mastered skills, such as wetting the bed or other forms of regression, also signal that further investigation is needed" she says.
9. Set the tone for a positive home
Don't over react to issues at school, with your boss, or neighbors. Model for them how to handle life's issue in stride and navigate through difficult situations. If you think something is a huge deal, they will too.
10. Say "I love you."
Even if they're older and act like they hate it, or even if you think they already know because of all you do for them, tell them. Hearing the words is just a 100% guarantee that they are indeed, very loved.
11. Put down the cell phone
"When parents are too absorbed by work or social media the lack of attention can appear to signal to children that they are in second place. When your kids are talking to you, put the phone down and make eye contact to signal that what they are saying is important and valued. Have times throughout the day that you are unplugged- this shows your children that they are important and also demonstrates good values for them regarding screen time, time management and work life balance. Being present makes a child feel loved and special so, whenever possible, save the work (or play!) for a time when you can give it 100% of your attention and instead spend those moments with your kids," says Copeland.
12. Keep Them Active
Give them the opportunity to discover their talents by signing them up for new, exciting activities. Katy is home to all kinds of sports leagues, art, music, acting classes, and more that truly foster a child's unique abilities.
13. Reward Effort, Not Performance
Winning first place is great, but what's more important is recognizing when a child is giving 100% effort to a hobby or project, even if they don't make the top spot. Make sure to recognize their effort not just when they win, but all the time.
14. Joke Around
For obvious reasons, taking little moments to be silly with your kids can be fun and relieve stress and bond. But according to kidshealth.org, it also has long-term psychological and emotional health benefits. Kids whose parents encourage a good sense of humor are tend to be more spontaneous and easy-going, can grasp new ideas opinions in a healthy way, and can find joy in all aspects of life.
15. Give them goals
At their core, humans are goal-driven. Giving a child an achievable goal, and praising them for it, will increase their confidence and self-esteem, and encourage them to try new things.
16. Teach them how to apologize
Instilling a sense of empathy and personal responsibility is crucial in raising a healthy, pro-social child. According to Psychology Today, a recent experiment showed results of children who were both in conflict with a peer, and the children who were apologized to reported feeling more forgiving toward the other child, and viewed them as a nicer person. In general, sincere apologies given when the wrong is understood and acknowledged leads to humility and better social interaction.
17. Light up when you see your child
If your child gets in the car or comes through the door and you're looking down at your phone, it's hard for them to feel very special. Make it a practiced habit to literally smile and light up whenever they walk into the room.
18. Give them age-appropriate responsibility
Letting older children make decisions on what interests to pursue, how to handle conflict, and even what to wear can be hard - but it can also give them a sense of identity. Letting go, and always being close for support, allows them to practice making adult decisions later in life.
19. Raise a "Silver Linings" Kind of Kid
At some point, your child is going to face disappointment, struggle, or difficult relationships. Practice finding the positive in every negative, and nothing will keep them down!
20. Keep the Yelling to a Minimum
Every parent has lost their cool now and again, and raised their voice to their children. While losing your temper once in a while is normal, its important to know that yelling at your children as a way of expressing anger or discipline on a regular basis can border on verbal abuse, and can have traumatic long-term affects on self-esteem, social behaviors, and future relationships. Take a time-out, breathe, react calmly.
21. Create traditions
Creating family traditions, whether it's a trip to the same beach every Spring, a kooky birthday detail like trick candles, or even watching the same sappy movie every Christmas, can add color to your families life, and gives children something to look forward to outside of the day-to-day run around. Kids gain a sense of identity and belonging through even the smalles traditions.
22. Listen to them
As parents, it can be hard to curb that desire to tell our kids how or why something should be done. Make it a point to simply listen to what they have to say, without coaching or instructing even if they are expressing the "negative" emotions like anger or frustration. Ask their opinions on things that will affect them, too. This will make them feel as though their voice, and their opinions, matter. It's important to really listen with your eyes too.
23. Demonstrate how to help others
Taking your child along to volunteer making or delivering meals, caring for the elderly, or other community projects creates an awareness of other people's needs. Empathy can only be learned through interacting with others!
24. Show Physical Affection
The act is simple, the benefit is profound. Extensive research has shown that parents need not be worried about hugging their children, "too much" and in fact, shows that kids who are hugged a lot have better self-esteem, respond better to discipline, and the feel of mom and dad's arms around them makes them feel safe enough to face the world.
25. Cultivate Their Unique Talents
Not every child is an athlete. Not every child is a genius. Not every child is a musical prodigy or artistic paragon, but every child is good at something. Instead of raising them in activities that you think could help them succeed in the long run, pay attention to what they are passionate about, and allow them to follow their own dreams.
All of the tips we used are based on Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs". In 1943, Abraham Maslow published an essay titled, "A Theory in Human Motivation" in which he argued that human beings are intrinsically motivated by the meeting of basic needs; and subsequently seek their higher needs once the most elementary have been filled. In his paper, he outlined which were the most basic, and which were the highest needs that a well-balanced, whole human could meet. The idea that human actions are goal-oriented lead to the illustration of a pyramid. Katy Magazine's tips were based on trying to feed and nourish each level of a child's development, based on this theory.
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