Thursday, September 10, 2009

ABC & D of Nurturing Your Kids

This Summer I went with my daughter Liesl and her family to Mt Hermon. While the kids all were having a blast with their counselors, we adults heard lectures. This one resonated with me and I wanted to share it with you.

There is a challenge of keeping the many areas of our kids' lives on the radar screen so that we can help guide them into becoming healthy adults in every possible way. Here is an easy way to remember the ABC & D approach to nurturing your kids.

A. Affirmation

An affirmed child is a secure and confident child. Most often, the difference between kids who make it and kids who don't is one caring adult. Even if you struggle with your teenager, believe in them! Most teens suffer from low self-esteem, and I almost always see this in cases where teens struggle with their parents. Kids with low self-esteem tend to become irresponsible. They make poor decisions socially, in regards to drugs and sexuality, and academically. Parents can make a huge difference in helping their teens to become responsible by affirming them, praising them and believing (even in the midst of struggle) in the person they can become.

B. Blameless Love

Kids are going to mess up at times--it's part of their 'job' description. When they do, they don't need to be condemned by their parents. Rather, they need to know they'll be loved and accepted (although they'll have to live with the consequences of their actions, of course!).

C. Connectedness

Kids need to feel connected to their parents. Your children regard your presence as a sign of caring and connectedness (even when they don't seem to do so!). You don't have to be present with your kids 24/7, but your presence gives them a greater sense of security than almost anything else you can offer them.

D. Discipline

Clearly expressed expectations and consistent follow-through produce responsible kids. The purpose of parental discipline is to teach responsibility. Unfortunately, for many of us parents, our primary objective is evoking obedience instead. And, to be perfectly honest, most of us try to do the "discipline thing" when we're upset, tired or frustrated....really in no shape to do so. Okay--where do we start? For one thing, recognize that good parenting involves training our children in the areas of choices and consequences. Keep that promise in mind when you are sticking to your strategy and you won't be disappointed.

When it comes to molding your childrens' lives through discipline, our kids need us always to show respect, even in the midst of tension. We can disagree with our children and still be able to communicate.

~~Jim Burns Ph.D~~

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dr. Burns for your insightful comments about discipline! As a child mental health counselor for nearly forty years, a parent of four kids, and "papa" of seven grandchildren (whew!) I know the "blameless love" approach is the only way - if you want self confident kids. Who wouldn't!

    Your readers might be interested in some specific "blameless love" parenting behaviors that I've developed. Focusing on the good at the center of the child is the key - even during conflict. That's when self confidence is built best (

    Thank you again for your extremely important message.

    Gary M Unruh MSW LCSW