Over the years, I’ve been able to decipher a few important lessons from my kids. Sometimes I’m good at figuring out what they are really trying to say with their behavior, other times, it takes me months or years of frustration before I figure out something they’re communicating. Here are some important messages, decoded, that I have come to realize my kids–and many kids–want parents to know.
1. Take me seriously. Don’t make jokes at my expense, don’t tease me for something “cute” that I’ve said, and don’t make light of things I think are important. They may seem silly to you, but based on my limited perspective of the world, this is how I think. If it’s wrong, don’t make fun of me, just help me learn what’s what.
2. Appreciate my interests. There is a reason why I like the things I do. Whether it’s collecting feathers, an interest in weapons, or playing video games, let me show you what I like about stuff. Don’t worry, you don’t have to like it too, but at least you’ll know why it appeals to me and you’ll understand me better.
3. Let me teach you stuff. I know you know lots of things, and I do too. Telling you about new concepts I’ve learned helps me clarify information. Plus I’m proud. Sometimes, please be my student so I can show you how much I know.
4. I like to finish what I start. I know I can’t always do that (like when we have to go somewhere) but I often get interrupted from my games, creative play, or the time I spend just thinking. It may look like I am “not doing anything,” but I assure you, I am. My brain is learning how to concentrate in long stretches and focus on tasks. If there’s not a reason to interrupt my work or thoughts, please let me finish.
5. I need to make some decisions for myself. Too many is overwhelming, but not enough is frustrating. Please give me just enough say in my life to help me feel that I am contributing in meaningful ways. Picking out my clothes is great, solving my own problems is even better!
6. I want you to understand me. Don’t try to sculpt me into who you think I should be, but understand me for who I already am. I’m learning about myself, too…let’s get to know me together.
7. If I have to jump around like a puppy to get your attention, I will. Please don’t require me to be crazy, noisy, and distracting to get you to notice and interact with me. I much prefer your regular, willing attention like you give other people.
8. Hold my hand…literally not figuratively. I want you to hug me, hold me, play with me, and give me physical affection. I love that, and I need it regularly. Then, I need you to let go and allow me find my own way through life’s challenges. I need to hold your hand, but I don’t need you to hold mine.