Children who do not believe they belong or matter do not feel valued unconditionally. To help themselves feel as though they are important, bully others, be demanding or withdraw as a form of punishment. These children might even act as if they think they are better than other people (even though they don’t believe they are). Some children think they only matter or belong if they meet conditions—-only if they get good grades, if they are the best at something specific, if they are perfect.
When they believe they belong or matter without conditions, they feel more valued by others, better about themselves and that they can make a difference. They are more willing to cooperate and contribute to family, school, and the community. They are not as worried about putting themselves out there to be judged. They can allow themselves to be vulnerable and take risks.
What can you do to empower this in a child?
A. Interact with them without distractions (turn off phones and other electronics so that the child knows they are the most important thing to you at the moment.)
B. Listen to the child, make eye contact (be sure to get on their level, not towering over) and summarize what they have said to you. Avoid lecturing or interrupting them.
C. Give hugs! Make a family rule that no one can lose hugs no matter what they do.
D. Eat at least one meal a day with your child.
E. Be excited about your children. Delight them. Light up when you see them.
F. Tell them you love them, thank you when they make contributions, and name specific positive attributes when you see them.
G. Ask your children for potential solutions and be respectful about their ideas.
H. Use your child’s love language.
A. Have family night
B. Go for “litter walks” or do something that contributes to the community.
C. Make an affirmation box or jar, with pieces of paper listing ways they matter and contribute
D. Read some of the books below:
I Believe In You by Marianne Richmond
I Have a LIttle Problem Said the Bear by Heinz Janisch and Silke Leffler
I Like Me by Nancy Carlson
Invisible Strings by Patrice Karst
On The Day You Were Born by Derbra Frasier
Only One You by Linda Kranz
I Love You Rituals (Bailey 2000)
The Five Love Languages of Children (chapman 2012)
The Five Love Languages of Teenagers (chapman 2010)
Parenting From Inside Out (Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell 2003)