With nine kids, Veronica has a lot of varying experiences as a parent! It hasn’t always been easy, but she’s always constantly trying to improve herself. Today you can read some tips she has about connecting with older kids and see if any of them are helpful for your family.
Hello! It’s Veronica and I’m always so happy to be here at “Or so she says”! I thought I’d share some thoughts I’ve had lately about connecting with older kids. I have 9 kids, and I can honestly say they are all different. When our kids are little, I think it’s so easy to find fun, simple ways of connecting with them. I think they are more open to it when they’re little, but as they grow older, those kids can get tricky. And if you agree with that, then you are normal! I think it’s a natural part of their development to have those struggles as they figure out who they are. Many parents don’t enjoy their older kids as much as they could. Why? Because older kids can be SO HARD! But I also think it’s because they just can’t figure out how to connect with them. When you find those things that you can do, I promise you will thoroughly enjoy those older kids of yours! Well…maybe not all the time. 🙂
I thought I’d share some simple tips with you. Please be mindful that some may apply to your kids, and others might not. Each child is different, and each parent is different. But, don’t give up. They want to be connected with you. They want to feel loved by you and WANT you to understand them.
CONNECTING WITH OLDER KIDS
1. FIRST…LIKE THEM. All kids know that parents love them. But, they need to know that you LIKE them! Try to look past some of their weaknesses, and look for the good. What do you like about them? All kids are likeable. They all have things that are positive. Focus on those!
2. Randomly say things that build them up. Tell them these things when there’s no obvious reason to say them. Say “I love you”, “I’m proud of you”, “You make me happy”, “I’m so happy you’re mine”. When we say these things to them at unexpected times, it will sometimes mean more because it’s not in response to good grades or good behavior. It’s just because! There is power in recognizing their goodness for no reason. Trust me. 🙂
3. Work together. Instead of assigning them to go do chores, do it with them. Some of my greatest moments with my older kids happen when I’m pulling weeds, cooking, organizing the food shelves, cleaning out their rooms WITH THEM. It’s a great time to talk, to laugh, to listen to music and to dance.
4. Make yourself available for them. Put your phones away. Turn the TV off. They will respond if they know you are willing to make time for them. They NEED to know that they are important to you. You may be surprised at what they will give in return.
5. Ask them questions! Show interest! How was their day? What’s their favorite class? What causes them stress? Who do they consider their best friend? What was something good that happened? We have an activity that we do at the dinner table. It’s called High/Low. Everyone takes a turn telling their high (the best moment of their day) and their low (the worst part of their day). It’s simple and doesn’t require them to say a lot, but I learn something every time we do it. It’s an easy way for me to keep tabs on how they’re doing.
6. Do fun surprises for them. Unexpectedly take them out of school and take them to lunch, after school take them out for a special treat, buy their favorite ice cream, let them pick out a movie to watch, take them shopping, leave love notes around their room. It doesn’t have to be big things, just something simple that lets them know you care.
7. Have a sense of humor. Don’t always be so serious with them. Find things to laugh at together.
8. Don’t ridicule or criticize. Help them navigate through their struggles, their stresses and maybe even bad choices. Sympathize with what they’re struggling with. To them, the hard things are REALLY hard to them, even though it might not seem so bad to you.
9. Special privileges. Let them stay up later than the younger ones, give them a break from dishes when you know they have a ton of homework, or let them pick the movie and sit and watch it with them.
10. Reassure them that you are going to love them no matter what. Let them make their choices, but LOVE THEM NO MATTER WHAT. Remind them of that often.
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11. LISTEN! You don’t have to solve everything. You don’t even have to agree with them. But, you do need to listen. Listen to hear them…not to lecture or correct them. Let them talk it out.
12. Allow them to make mistakes…because they are going to make them. Try your hardest to be patient as they figure things out. Try not to judge, but understand that this is part of the process of being a teenager.
13. Remember that you can’t fix everything. You can’t fix their mistakes. You can’t fix their weaknesses, their insecurities or their fears. But you CAN teach, guide, support and LOVE them.
14. Don’t hold their mistakes against them. Forgive them. And forgive them often. Always take the opportunity to encourage them to better themselves and to learn from their mistakes. None of us are perfect…especially our older kids!
15. Enjoy them. I mean really enjoy them. Sit and think about who they really are. What are their strengths? What are their successes? What makes you proud of them? How do they help you to be a better person? When you stop and think about these things, you’ll be reminded of how VERY lucky you are to be their parent. Older kids are incredible. Their lives are full of potential and promise. They have great things in store for them, and when they have the love and support of parents behind them, there’s nothing they can’t do. Just enjoy them for who they are, because who they are is enough.
Download and print from HERE.
Best of luck connecting with those kiddos of yours! It may be tough, but it’s worth every effort!
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