How to make your child feel
loved and wanted with Psychoharmonics®
The value put on children has varied over the centuries and, in general, has been directly linked to the economy. In hunter-gatherer societies, even small children were able to contribute to a tribe’s welfare by gathering fruits and berries, scraping hides, and performing other low-skill tasks. In agricultural societies, children still had worth. They could hoe, plant, weed, and harvest crops and also take care of livestock. Even preteen children did adult jobs, such as driving a team of horses, cooking, cleaning, taking care of younger children, and so on. With the coming of the industrial age, however, once child labor laws were enacted, for most families in the United States children were an expensive burden. They soaked up a large part of the family budget with their requirements for food, clothing, housing, daycare, medical care, education, entertainment, and now even such things as automobiles, computers, cell phones, etc. For low-income families, children have been especially burdensome, and that often has led to brutal abuse.
I started my life when America was just beginning to get out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the South, farming still ruled the economy, although northern industries were beginning to look southward for cheaper, non-union labor. Still, for most families at that time, trapped between the two economies, children were more of a burden than a joy. Then for a little while, mostly in the 1950s, most men had decent jobs and women could stay at home and properly raise their brood in true “Leave It To Beaver” fashion.
Many American women got their first taste of doing “public work” in offices and factories during the 1940s when most of the capable men were off fighting to win WWII. Although many were dumped when “our boys” came home, the cat was out of the bag. As women were lured back into the economy, the resulting lower wages for all workers, along with rapidly inflating prices of goods and services, soon made it necessary for both parents in a family to work outside the home. Financial independence, along with relaxed divorce laws, also led to more dissolved marriages. Once again children were an expensive burden.
Women, and to a lesser extent men, are hardwired to procreate. As a result, regardless of their environmental or economic circumstances, people in general have an instinctive urge to have children that share their genes. That instinct is further reinforced by the standards set by society that suggest that all worthy people get married and have a family. With those dual pressures, even with today’s birth control technology, people, including an increasing number of singles, continue to give birth to children that they neither want nor can afford. For those misguided souls, there is little that I can offer in the way of help, other than suggesting that they offer their children up for adoption. It’s very hard, if not impossible, to make an unwanted child feel loved.
Now, with that said, regardless of your circumstances, if you really do love your child and you sincerely want your child to feel loved, please read on.
The first step is to accept the fact that your child is a human being, but is not a miniature adult. Born with certain hardwired programming, the human child continues for years to develop nerves, muscles, and organs to adapt to the environment in which he finds himself. For optimum growth, he needs proper nutrition, exercise, and strong, nurturing adults to teach him how to be a kind, responsible, caring, and happy individual. An adult skillful in these traits must teach the child to obey reasonable rules and commands. As with any animal, this can be done only if the child both loves and fears that adult. In other words, the child must have a strong desire to please the adult and also fear the consequences if he fails to comply with reasonable rules and commands. In such a world with rational boundaries, the child feels safe, and yet also feels free to explore the wonders within those boundaries.
You must realize that each child is unique. While all children have many common traits as they grow up, their personalities still are as different as their fingerprints. Some of these inclinations are hardwired – inherited from a long line of ancestors. Others are learned from what the child sees going on around him. One little boy or girl might love to participate in contact sports and wear a bruise with pride. Another might be terrified of being hit and much prefer to draw pictures, cook, or study critters he/she finds under a rock. The key to producing children that feel loved is simply to love them for who they are instead of trying to turn them into something they are not and can never be. In short, don’t try to make a dog meow.
If a man who was a football star in school fathers a little boy who much prefers to do what the jock considers to be “sissy things,” that’s a surefire setup for producing an unhappy child – unless daddy has the good sense to sail with the wind and rejoice with the child as he develops his natural talents.
The same goes for little girls, of course. Not all little girls will be inclined to love cooking, sewing, and nursing baby dolls. Some will be more at home learning to hammer, saw, operate machinery, and maybe even knocking heads on the football field. As long as the child’s inclinations are not antisocial, let him/her have at it.
One thing I remember from my own childhood is that the adults who made me feel loved were the ones who treated me as an adult – that is, as an equally worthy human being. The ones I detested treated me as though I was some kind of lower animal. If you want your child to feel worthy – feel like a 10 – then you have to label him a 10 in your own mind and then treat him like one. That doesn’t mean you fail to be the supervisor and indulge his every whim. What you do have to do, however, is treat him with respect – at the same time that you behave in a manner that merits respect from him for yourself.
With rare exceptions, all social animals are born with a desire to have power – as much power as they can get – even before they know what to do with that power. Horses do it. Dogs do it. Chimps do it. And human children do it. More often than you might think, wimpy parents allow a toddler to take control of the household. Many a mom actually fears her own four-year-old! Unless you fearlessly take control of your child in a consistent and unyielding manner, that child will rule you and make a disaster of your whole family’s life, including his own.
A child that grabs at everything he sees in the supermarket and then screams as loud as possible when it’s taken away from him is telling the much-annoyed world that he has unskilled, and probably uncaring, parents. Even when children are still toddlers, you can communicate this to your them: Whining, screaming, and pitching a fit is not an acceptable means of communication. Tell them, “If you have a complaint, I will listen to you. And then I expect you to listen to me as I give you my decision and the reason for it. You will give me respect and I will give you respect. That’s the way it works.”
With that said, you never reward whining, screaming, and pitching a fit. Never. You also never turn down a request or punish a behavior without an explanation. “Because I said so” is not an explanation. This is: “You cannot eat candy now because it will spoil your appetite and you will not want to eat your dinner. Unless you eat good food, you will be sick and weak and not be able to enjoy playing all the games you love. After you eat a good dinner, you may have one piece of candy for dessert.”
Another major taboo is the ubiquitous “okay?” When you give a command, you are not asking for the child’s approval. If you say, “It’s time to go to bed now, okay?” you’re offering the child the option of saying, “Naw, I don’t think it’s okay. I think I’ll stay up another hour or two, so get outta my face.”
Still another taboo is for you to scream, curse, and pitch a fit. That shows you’re out of control yourself. You might generate fear and compliance, but you won’t get respect. You’ve shifted into your negative hate mindset and you obviously have a very negative label for your child. And he knows it. Result? He comes back with an equally negative label for you that also fuels his anger and hate. Without some love for you, along with some fear, you cannot depend upon his compliance with your rules and your commands.
A common mistake that many parents make is failing to establish an early understanding of what a command is. As a result, they have to give a command many times with gradually escalating threats until the command finally is obeyed. I’ve often heard a parent tell a child multiple times, “I’m not going to tell you again…” “Come into the house now” should bring your child into the house immediately. You should not get into the habit of finally having to scream, “If you don’t get into this house right now I’m going to tear your butt up!”
Of course, children are not naturally inclined to fit their lives to a schedule. When they’re engaged in a fun activity, whether it’s watching a cartoon or chasing lightning bugs, they will resist abruptly leaving it. To get over that hurdle, wise parents give their children “fair warning” that quitting time is close. For example, you might want to use a little whistle to alert your child that bedtime is only 30 minutes away. Another reminder might come at 15 minutes. That gives the child plenty of time to wrap things up and be ready to jump into bed at the appointed time. If you feel like being creative, you could set up some little lamps with different colored bulbs. You could even pattern the lights after traffic lights: green gives them 30 more minutes of play; yellow means they have 15 minutes left; and red means it’s time to wrap it up and be in the bed within five minutes.
Adults also appreciate being given fair warning. A man in the middle of a project would prefer hearing “Dinner is served in 10 minutes!” as opposed to an annoyed announcement of “It’s on the table and getting cold!”
When a child loves you, he will seek your approval. A hug and an “attaboy” usually will serve as adequate rewards for a task well done. If he loves you enough, he also will fear your disapproval. Simply saying, “I don’t think that was your best effort” will be punishment enough to make him try harder next time. You should never get into the habit of paying a child with money for doing routine chores. He enjoys the benefits of the family, so he also should be trained to understand that he has a responsibility to carry his own weight. The 25-year-old “child” who has never picked up his/her room or washed a dish is a ridiculous figure and usually turns out to be a burden to society in general. Pity the poor spouse.
It’s true that some children seem to be born with a kind, loving, compliant personality. Others come out of the gate chomping at the bit and will try your patience. Nevertheless, skillful, consistent neck-reining usually will keep them in line too. When you have to resort to harsh punishment for a child, you’re really admitting your own failure.
The world we live in tends to reward excellent performances and punishes poor ones. It’s a huge disservice to a child to lead him to believe it is any other way. The current tendency to avoid rewarding children according to the merit of their performance sets up the poor performers for a life of frustration and pushes the more talented children toward mediocrity. If you get rewarded the same for poor work as you do for excellent work, why bother? Whoever came up with the idea of ball games that have no scoring did not know children.
Children have to learn to get along with, not only adults, but other children as well, especially their siblings. Unskilled parents often let sibling rivalry get out of hand. When mom brings home a new baby and dotes over it while the firstborn toddler is all but ignored, there will be trouble in RiverCity. Junior has to be taught that he’s a member of a team and, since he’s the older, he’s the team captain with special responsibilities, among them, helping to take care of the little one. If you show the slightest inclination to favor one over the other, you’ll mark the runner-up child for life, and there will never be peace in your family – even decades later.
The bottom line of how to make a child or any other person or social animal feel loved can be found on one pf my other websites by clicking here: https://doctorstress.com/psychoharmonics/
There you’ll learn that the ultimate goal of all behavior is to regarded as worthy by self and others. When you love somebody, you consider that person to be a 10, and your relationship with that person makes you feel like a 10. To make your child feel loved, you have to tap into his value system to figure out what, to him, constitutes a worthy person. That value system will change as your child passes through the various stages of growth. Once you figure out what makes your child feel worthy, then you do and say things that communicate that you consider him to be a 10.
If a father has a healthy relationship with his toddler son, that boy usually will consider the father to be the model for his concept of a worthy person. As a result, the more like Dad he can be, the more worthy he will feel. He might also adopt an older brother as a model. That’s why little boys are always wanting to do “big boy” things.
For most young boys in American society, a worthy boy is reasonably intelligent, strong, skilled in athletics, able to defend himself, nice looking, owns nice things, lives in a nice home, has admirable parents, etc.
For most young girls, the list is much the same except being attractive occupies a somewhat higher slot in the value system. Little girls instinctively know that pretty girls get the strong, able mates who are best able to care for them and their children. With today’s ever-shifting cultural values, not all little girls lean in that direction of course. Many would rather lead the pack instead of being a dependent follower.
In raising a child that feels loved, you have to keep in mind that your ultimate goal should be to produce a happy, independent, productive, self-sufficient and sociable adult that will be a blessing to himself as well as to others around him. While the toddler requires a fairly short leash for his own protection, to produce an able adult you have to lengthen that leash with each passing year. When the child is 18 years old, you have to realize he no longer is a child. He’s an adult. Although you might still provide some financial assistance for a student, by that time he should have adult skills and adult responsibility for his own welfare.
A great way to commemorate the lengthening of the leash is to use periodical ceremonies to mark certain passages. Even primitive tribes recognize this as an important tool for shaping a child for adult responsibilities. In our society, the first, of course, is when the child learns to walk. First day in pre-K might be the next. Then there’s the first day in first grade, first day in middle school, first day in high school, and first day in college or technical school. Then there’s the graduation. Each of these steps should be anticipated with enthusiasm and met with a joyful celebration where the child, in mitzvah fashion, is the center of attention. As he takes each new step, he is given a new label for himself and informed of the new privileges and responsibilities that go with that label.
No later than age 7, little boys and little girls should be given a basic education about sexual desires, activities, and precautions that must be taken to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancies. Thereafter, this should be an expanded ongoing program that allows both the child and the parent to feel comfortable eventually to discuss anything that has to do with sexual activity, including petting, masturbation, homosexuality, AIDS, other STDs, etc. Your child at any age should feel as free to talk to you about sex as he/she would be to talk about real birds and bees. It is ridiculous for a girl to have her first period and be convinced that she is bleeding to death. It is equally inexcusable for a boy to have his first nocturnal ejaculation and worry that something is terribly wrong with him. Many teenaged girls now believe they can engage in oral sex with no disease risks and still be a virgin. Little wonder that almost half of the millennial generation mothers are not married and pregnancies among teens and even younger children continues to be the trend.
In summary, if you want your child to feel loved, you have to love your child. You can’t fake it. If you maintain positive labels for your offspring, your mindset of love will be easier to maintain. Deal with him/her as you would with a cake you’re baking. You put in the right ingredients, bake it at the right temperature, checking it at the various stages, and finally you put the icing on it and let it go. Just as you wouldn’t just mix up the batter and never put it in the oven, neither should you try to keep a child little and dependent forever. Your job is to help him grow up to be a happy, healthy, independent, productive, and sociable adult who, in turn, has the skills to support and raise a family of his/her own. With that done, you then can enjoy the next stage of parenthood that includes grandchildren and, perhaps, great-grandchildren. If you’ve done your job right, then more than likely your children will produce good stock of their own that will be a joy to love and share your wisdom with. That’s your icing on the cake.
If you like this article, you’ll love my new book now available at Amazon.com: Stress is a Choice: So is Joy. Order your copy for only $2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle reader of some kind, free apps are available to allow you to read it on your computer, smart phone, and other devices. The radical redefining of both the cause and cure for stress you’ll find in this book will change your life forever.
Stress is a Choice; So is Joy
Now available at Amazon.com for $2.99