Tag Archives: affirmation

Speaking Words of Affirmation to your Teen

When you say something encouraging to your teen (or tween even, for that matter), does it feel like water off a duck’s back? Despair not, for your words matter. In fact, one of the 5 Love Languages is Words of Affirmation. Remember that your words have a lasting impact on your children. Here are 3 areas that we can focus on when speaking words of affirmation to our children:

+ Character
When your child demonstrates positive traits such as honesty, generosity and kindness, highlight their actions and praise their character. Such compliments will encourage them and spur them on to continue doing good.

+ Contributions, big or small
Simple things, such as the older sibling helping to pack up the younger one’s toys, may not seem important. However, by acknowledging and appreciating their efforts, it reinforces the message that what they do matters.

+ Courage
In a world that seems so big, trying and doing new things can be daunting. Applaud their courage for trying new things, and cheer them on as they do so. Having Dad and Mum’s support is reassuring, and means more to them than you would know.

Recognizing and Celebrating Each Child

October saw different ones sharing ways to love your children; to round up the series, I’ve been asked to share the principle Cheryl and I live by when it comes to loving our daughters and parenting in general:

Recognizing and celebrating each child’s uniqueness.

We believe that children are a gift from God, and recognize that each child is different. Therefore we purpose to appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate each child’s differences… and I would encourage you to do the same too.

How to recognize your child’s uniqueness (or differences) 
As you spend time with your children, communicating and observing them – you’ll be able to see the differences between them. Once we recognize that each child is unique, it’ll lead to us wanting to treat each child differently.

As a case in point, both my eldest and youngest daughter share the same primary love language (Words of Affirmation). Yet when it comes to displaying the language, what we say differs; I look for different traits and characteristics to praise.

My eldest daughter is hard worker, and has achieved many things, so Cheryl and I affirm her for her effort, and for living to her fullest potential. As for my youngest daughter, she is enthusiastic, and loves helping people, so we encourage and affirm her positive attitude. We celebrate her love and compassionate heart for others, and appreciate her for helping those around her.

We tell our daughters that their uniqueness is a gift, and we make it a point to celebrate their uniqueness and individuality.

Why celebrate each child’s uniqueness?
Some of my friends feel that if you have two children, where one is book smart and the other not so, you try to make the one who is not as book-smart less discouraged by not celebrating the result. In my view, it’s better to recognize each of their strong points rather than downplaying it.

This goes back to the first point where each child is different. Perhaps your child who is not as book-smart may be gifted in sports. Or perhaps your child enjoys baking, or writing new music. I am certain that there will certainly be an area for you to celebrate and take delight in, regardless of what it is.

For example, my younger daughter enjoys sports, and when she does well, we bring the whole family out to celebrate. One is better at arts, another is better in studying … I tell each of my daughters that it’s okay to excel in different areas, and we celebrate them all.

In essence, it’s about celebrating each child, not toning down celebrations for one. As you affirm and appreciate their differences, you’ll see them blossom and grow in confidence and stature.

A family that celebrates together stays together
When we celebrate one of my daughters, we do so as a family. Recently when one of my daughters came in 19th at a national sports meet, we had a nice dinner at home and commemorated the occasion with a cake. To us, it’s not about having a lavish celebration, but rather, a simple and meaningful affair.

That said, celebrations need not be confined to achievements; it should also be about the person and character. For example, if your child spends time volunteering at orphanage to read stories to the children you can celebrate and praise his/her compassionate nature.

In due course we noticed that it helped to tamper down the need for comparison and actually strengthened the sisterly bond between them. They are able to rejoice together with their sisters wholeheartedly and are proud of them.

As for Cheryl and I, we are proud of the young ladies our daughters are becoming, and would not have wanted it any other way.

Editor’s note: This post concludes our Loving our Children series. You can view the other posts in the series here. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Today’s post comes courtesy of Andy Sim, an IT professional by training. He is happily married and has 4 daughters.

Perfection vs Keeping it Real

Full cascading hair, narrow face structure, almond-shaped eyes, and Angelina Jolie’s famous full lips – these are the ideal features of a beautiful woman. Or are they?

A recent survey found that one in three Singaporean youths feel it is perfectly acceptable to go for cosmetic procedures at their age. According to Dr Frederick Lukash, a New York plastic surgeon interviewed by The New York Times, many youths “do it to fit in.”

Images of ‘perfect’ men and women on advertisements and social media subtly influence us into thinking we need a specific product in order to look appealing. What youths are not consciously aware of is that many of these images today are edited computer composites.

Youths are at the phase in their lives where they are discovering their identities and are susceptible to conforming to society’s pervasive ideal values and beauty standards. Hence, it is hardly surprising that many of them believe it is not wrong to undergo plastic surgery as a ‘corrective measure’ in order to gain recognition from others or just to look ‘normal’.

It is unfortunate that many youths feel great dissatisfaction over their looks.

In our role as parents, guardians, relatives, mentors, teachers or friends, our role is not merely to shelter our next generation from negative influences that affect their sense of self-worth, but also to help them develop strong, positive values that can strengthen their self-esteem. We can do this by:

  • Connecting genuinely: Ensure that they are comfortable approaching you with any frustrations they may have about their looks. Be slow to judge or dictate how they should feel, and make the effort to truly understand their point of view.
  • Encouraging character development: Looks matter, but they are temporal. Remind them that what’s inside is most important. We are wholesome only when we balance presentation with positive character and values.
  • Providing meaningful affirmation: This is especially important when they are being teased because of their looks. During this sensitive period when a youth’s self-esteem is fragile, your reminders about their uniqueness and value will go a long way. Remind them that their worth is not based on attaining society’s seemingly ‘perfect’ images.
  • Setting a good example for a balanced, healthy lifestyle: Youths pick up habits, attitudes, and mindsets (good or bad) from you. Model a healthy self-image for them and implement family practices like eating healthily and exercising regularly together.
  • Role-modelling self-love and confidence: If you constantly express dissatisfaction with your weight or facial features (from the small grouses like “My tummy is so big!” to the “I wish my ears were smaller”) yet tell them that they are fine as they are, it sends across mixed signals – and your actions will eradicate the impact of your words. Being confident and loving yourself as you are will give the youths you are interacting with an example to follow.

To quote Zoe Kravitz, an American actress and model: “Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.”  Let’s be there to sincerely say to our youths, “You are beautiful even when you think you aren’t, and I love you for who you are.”

Editor’s note: Are you curious to know what youths think about plastic surgery? We asked an undergraduate to pen her thoughts, and her unique yet heartwarming perspective is definitely worth reading. Keep a look out for it this Saturday!

3 Phrases Your Children Should Learn From You

Children learn more from what you are than what you teach

Parents, our children watch and learn from how we act – and this includes what we do and say. They will reflect our behavior subconsciously (i.e. not deliberately) so we need to model the behavior we want to see in our kids.

To create a positive home environment and be a role model for your kids, here are 3 phrases that you should use:

+ I’m Sorry
Although our children believe we are perfect and/or superheroes, the truth is that we are only human – and will make mistakes. Your hunger can cause you to be worse than Oscar the Grouch, you may blurt out something wrong by accident, or you could forget your child’s all-important performance in school … many things can happen, and it can’t be helped.

So instead of trying to run from it, deal with the mistakes instead by learning to say sorry. And when your children see you stepping up to apologize, they learn that (a) it’s okay to make a mistake and (b) saying sorry isn’t as difficult or intimidating as they think it to be.

Tip: If saying sorry is difficult, think about this: what matters more, being right or making amends?

+ I Love You
The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman are widely known: quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and words of affirmation.

Even if your family’s love language is not words of affirmation, it is still important to say “I love you”. Most people still need to hear “I love you” in order to feel that they are loved, and by verbalizing your love for your family members, especially your children, it reassures them and reinforces the fact that you love them,

Tip: If you can’t bring yourself to say “I love you”, why not send a message or leave a note for them somewhere obvious (like in the toilet)?

+ Thank You
Showing your appreciation is a powerful way to affirm your family members, and also shows that you recognize the efforts that they have put in. When you say “thank you”, you send a message to your children that showing gratitude for those around them is important, and they will learn to do the same as well 🙂

Tip: When you start saying “thank you”, go beyond the things that people do for you, but start thanking them for who they are!

Fathers Deserve More Recognition

It’s commonly observed that Father’s Day celebrations tend to be quieter and simpler than for Mother’s Day. At times, fathers are even thought of as being helpful, but not critically necessary.

On the contrary, fathers should be given more recognition, at least for the following reasons:

  • The cost of father absence to the community is estimated to be over AUD$12 billion per year in Australia, while the U.S. government spent at least US$99.8 billion providing assistance to father-absent families in 2006.
  • Close to 90 studies published in the last decade highlight the importance of father involvement, based on the 2013 review by The Fathering Project at the University of Western Australia.
  • In a review of 36 studies from around the world (beyond the Western context), it has been concluded that a father’s love is at least as important, if not more, to youngsters as their mother’s.

Taken together, recent research about fatherhood has provided new insights about the critical and distinctive roles played by fathers, and the significant long-term impact they have on the social, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being of children.

Research suggests that fathers’ impact on kids’ behaviour begins as early as infancy. Mothers tend to keep their babies calm, gazing at them, babbling together and affectionately touching them. Fathers tend to get the babies more excited and laughing, often playing physical games that arouse or startle them. Fathers contribute most to providing play exploration which helps to develop emotional and behavioural self-regulation, while mothers tend to be the providers of comfort in times of distress.

Father involvement has been linked to fewer behavioural problems among school-age children, less delinquency among teenage boys and fewer psychological problems in young women.

Fathers play an integral role in children’s socialization. The time that teenagers spent with fathers in the presence of others was linked to increased social competence; the same effect was not observed with mothers. Paternal support tends to be associated with social competence in the school setting while maternal support is associated with academic competence.

Fathers also make unique contributions to teen development. From measures of 60 potential links between parental factors and teen outcomes in a longitudinal study, 20% were unique to fathers. Fathers’ influence on alcohol and illicit drug use in youths may be stronger than that of mothers. Father absence is a critical contributor to adolescent sexual risk behaviour in both sons and daughters. A study of Thai youth found that youth who have a close relationship with their father are less likely to initiate premarital sex during adolescence.

In summary, there is compelling evidence that fathers are irreplaceable and their distinctive parenting style complements mothers in significant ways for the healthy development of children.

What fathers do with their children on a day-to-day basis makes a great difference not only to their children, but also to society and for the generations to follow. This Father’s Day, let’s make special effort to affirm and honour fathers among our midst!

References:

Dads for Life. (n.d.) Where Do Fathers Stand in Shaping Healthy Teen Sexuality. Retrieved from http://pruitttad461.typepad.com/blog/2012/02/where-do-fathers-stand-in-shaping-healthy-teen-sexuality.html

Macrae, F. (2012, 13 June). How Absence of a Loving Father Can Wreck a Child’s Life: New Study Shows Relationship with Both Parents Is Crucial. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2158671/Love-father-contributes-childs-development-mother-study-claims.html

Mitchell, P.J., (2013, August 21). The Unique Benefits of Fatherhood. [A review of Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Perspectives] eReview Vol. 13, No. 16.  Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. Retrieved from http://www.imfcanada.org/issues/unique-benefits-fatherhood

Nock, S.L. & Einolf, C.J. (2008). The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man: The Annual Public Costs of Father Absence. National Fatherhood Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/dcf/lib/dcf/fatherhood/pdf/fatherabsencecost.pdf

Shellenbarger, S.(2011, June 14). The Secret of Dads’ Success: How Fathers’ Teasing, Tickling, Wrestling Teach Kids to Whine Less and Be More Independent. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved fromhttp://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304665904576383464255980534?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304665904576383464255980534.html

The Fathering Project (n.d.). About the Fathering Project. Retrieved from http://thefatheringproject.org/about-the-fathering-project

Wood, L. & Lambin, E. (2013). How Fathers and Father Figures Can Shape Child Health and Wellbeing. The University of Western Australia. Retrieved fromhttp://thefatheringproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/How-fathers-and-father-figures-can-shape-child-health-and-wellbeing-Wood-Lambin-UWA-2013.pdf