Do You Emotional Intelligence In Your Home?

Emotional Intelligence-for social

Recently I’ve been reading Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman for work and I’ve had some pretty enlightening moments.  I’ve written down several traits that particularly stick out to me such as: intentionality, adaptiveness, self-awareness, catalyst, resiliency and the list goes on.   I found myself focusing more and more on these attributes because I wanted to be well rounded in my career.

This reflection went on for several weeks and I found myself practicing those things sometimes without flaw at work, but when it came to my home, I was obviously lacking in several of these areas.  I thought, “How could I be so good at these at work, but fail in them at home?” I would snap at my kids or feel unmotivated to go the extra mile at home and even lose patience when they weren’t catching on to things as quickly as I wanted them to.   I think you can agree that different motivations move us to react differently in certain situations than others.  Sometimes that can be good, but sometimes that can be bad.   Why was it so hard to show the same level of emotional intelligence at home as it was work?

For me, I think it came down to priority. I want to be the same person in public (work) as I am in private (home), but it hasn’t always been that easy.   I react the way I do at work because I have put value on my emotions that tie directly to my paycheck, career growth and maybe even part of my identity.   At home, I often fail to put the same value on my emotions that tie to my spiritual growth and identity-as well as to my family’s.   Call it materialism, idolatry-I’m not sure, but the fact of the matter is that it’s easier sometimes to place more emphasis on things that are passing (temporal) rather than things that are eternal.

I’m all for showing emotional intelligence in the professional world, but I know I’m not the only one that struggles with having the same level of EQ once I step into the home.   Below are several traits that I’m working on within my home to match my enthusiasm with them in the work place. This is just a sampling and you might have others that you’d like to concentrate on.   I listed intention first because it is one of the main characteristics that stuck with me.   If you’re intentional about change in your home, amazing things will happen.   You’ll find that with these you’re not only progressing at work, but you’re also making a huge impact right where it matters most-the home.

Intention:  You can choose your path or you can have one by default.    Default intention leads to living by other people’s standards, by the winds of change and most likely by being reactive instead of proactive.   What purpose are you intentionally driving towards in your family?  Determine now to break those chains of the past, stand in the gap and help your children navigate successfully through life.

Adaptive: Life is full of change and we always need to be flexible.  We all have a tendency to get comfortable and resist the very things that will help us grow.   Parents often fail to grow with their kids and with the times.  Unfortunately their parenting style becomes irrelevant and fails to meet the needs of their changing kids.  Commit to always grow through every stage of life.  Is there an area in your life where you can be more adaptive?

Self-Awareness: We all have blind spots, but why is it that we often miss glaring and sometimes exaggerated tendencies and habits that affects our relationships negatively?  It’s the boss that doesn’t realize that his criticizing is hurting productivity, the teacher who never sees the potential in her students or the parent who never accepts his child.    Self-awareness is key to learning from our mistakes and shortcomings.   It’s the voice that prompts “you should work on that“ or “you’re better than that.”   Don’t be so focused on other people’s issues that you fail to be self-aware of what’s going on with you.

Catalyst:   If there’s change to be made in your family than that’s up to you.   Don’t be overwhelmed by your responsibility, but rather embrace the challenge.   You have God given resources at your disposal to do the right thing, change course and affect your family forever.    Break those destructive chains that have plagued your family and put the boundaries in place to raise the standard.   You can be that catalyst for change if you’ll decide now that your family deserves better.

Resiliency:   Many things in life can be disruptive and harmful, but we must not let those misfortunes cripple us from doing the right things.  It’s the “just man” that falls seven times, but he rises the 8th.    Life is hard sometimes and it’s tempting to check out and wonder whether it’s all worth it or not.   Others, including your children, are counting on you to keep your hand to the plow no matter the difficulty.   Even Jesus had to set his face like flint to weather the suffering ahead. Whatever you’re about to check out on or give up -it’s going to trickle down to your kids.  They may not quit on the same things, but they’re going to remember that you gave up instead of getting back up and fighting for what’s right.   Determine now that with God’s help you’re going to focus on being resilient!

So the question is how’s the emotional intelligence in your home? Maybe you didn’t identify as much with the ones I’m working on, but rather other attributes such as thick-skinned, inspiring, empathetic, optimism, self-control, cooperation, etc. would be more fitting.   Whatever you strive to improve in the area of emotional intelligence; make it a priority to show these to the people you love and care about the most.     The world is full of parents that have already given up, or don’t want to accept their responsibility.  Don’t be one of those, but rather raise the standard of what you want for your family and hold yourself accountable to infuse emotional intelligence into your home.

If you like my content, feel free to subscribe as well as email or comment on any ideas to make my blog even better! You can also check out my Youtube channel RelevantParenting and that has more creative ideas on how to engage with your kids.

Best,

Chad

 

30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 2

Situps-Part 2

If you didn’t get a chance to catch Part 1 of the 30 Day Parenting Challenge, you can catch it here: 30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 1 . Are you ready for another 10 days of challenge? I know you are, that’s why you’re reading this. You’re a third of the way and I know you can make it to the end. What we’re trying to do is set some new habits in our parenting and determine not to settle or coast through life. We have an important job to do and with the help of a loving and supporting community; we can encourage each other to take our parenting to the next level. Let’s get started with our next 10 days of challenge!

11) Make a resolution to never quit: Will you be like the prodigal’s father and love that child who has wronged you? Will you pursue your child like God did Jonah? Will you have the love for your child as Jesus did even after Peter denied him? Often times we focus on where we’re hurting, our name that’s tarnished because of our kids actions, or how we’re inconvenienced by a child that likes things and acts totally different than what we do. Your children need you, especially through their mistakes. Don’t conditionally love them, but accept them for who they are and pray that God will use their mistakes even to shape a successful life for them.
12) Identify current dangers to your family: Who’s the “watchman” for your family if we as parents aren’t? Certainly there’s plenty of other forces internally and externally that would love to take over the family castle. What’s hindering the growth in relationships within your family? Have you retired as a parent, or are you actively watching out for breeches from the enemy? Take this day to write out a handful of things that could cause some harm. Don’t ever let your guard down; be vigilant to identify what’s leading your family down harmful paths and captivating your children’s hearts with things that are lowly and ultimately destructive.
13) Preserve some of your history: I get that not everyone is sentimental or every child will care to receive their favorite childhood blankey when they’re an adult, but passing down some of those heirlooms can carry a lot of meaning with them. Most children, if raised by loving parents will aspire to have something of remembrance of them or a special childhood item/memory that brings back some great sentimental feelings. Gather that journal, or trunk that you can start saving some of those special experiences. I am personally lucky that a lot of my childhood toys and collections were preserved. There’s not a week that goes by that my kids don’t ask to peruse through them asking questions and learning more about my life experience.
14) Engage with them spiritually: It’s easy to rely on their Sunday school class, kid’s program or maybe their youth group to teach them their spiritual basics. However, most of those programs aren’t going to have the level of accountability that you can offer your child. If they’re old enough to read scripture; how are their devotions going? Could you memorize a verse or two with them? Are they struggling in an area of their life that you can help give them spiritual counsel on?
15) Write a vision for your family: Maybe this is something you can do on your parenting sabbatical day suggested on #8. Parenting has to be more than just a reactive duty, taking the kids here and there while you try to balance work and home all the while keeping the goldfish alive. What do you want to accomplish as a family? Is there a mission that your family is cut out to do? Does everyone in the family know that you’re working together for a common goal? This might be different for every family, but if you’re letting life happen and you have no real “calling” for your family, then life will happen and you’ll miss some of those rewarding opportunities that could have been presented to you. Decide where your family will make its mark and go out and live it!
16) Get over your past: One of the best things you can do as a parent is to get over your own past. I’m not suggesting that you can just get over it in one day, but you can certainly get started down that path. If you really want to bring that baggage into your kid’s lives than keep on reliving it; but is that what you really want? You CAN decide to leave the past in the past and focus on the future with your children. So many parents can’t get over their own past and they end up missing the present and future with their children. They have too many hang-ups themselves to help their kids with their own struggles. This is such a sad, wasted life. Find a way to move on and help your kids flourish in whatever they set out to do.
17) Fast for your family: You can do this as a family or individually as parents, but fasting has its place in deepening once search for God’s direction. Skip a meal, a whole day’s worth or even an activity that you can forego to spend more time seeking the right path for your family. Myself included, we often lack intensity in our pursuit for the best things in life. Fasting allows us to clear our vision on what we feel is important and necessary for God’s intervention in our lives.
18) Decide to pursue your dreams: Do you want your children to grow up pursuing their dreams? Then I say pursue yours. Your children will gain so much more life experience and lessons watching you take risks and go after your heart’s desire than if you teach them that you gave up all your dreams to raise them. I’m not saying that parenting doesn’t take sacrifice, but being the true person that you are and pursuing your passion is exactly what will encourage your children to do the same. Holding back actually conveys to your children that pursuing their dreams isn’t practical, it’s not possible with your current responsibility, or even that it’s not worth it amidst the other complexities of life. It’s much better to remain safe is what you’re saying. You only live once and so do your children. Learn to follow your own dreams and your children will be that much more enriched by it.
19) Be grateful: Nothing cures discontentment and melancholy more than being grateful. All the ups and downs of life is what God is using to shape you and your children. Learn to make lemonade out of lemons and trust that there is a plan behind everything. Your kids aren’t going to benefit from a cynical spirit and certainly living in a constant grumbling state produces the worst outlook in kids. Teach your children to be thankful for everything and make sure you are modeling it for them. Hardly any circumstances are as bad as we paint them out to be, so be a part of the solution instead of adding to the problem. Enjoy every minute of the children God gave you even if they rub you the wrong way sometimes.
20) Bestow some of your personal items to them: What are some of your personal items or parts of your collections that you can give to your children at this stage in their life? Is it jewelry, a childhood book or toy, or maybe something that your father gave you? Some things that I have to pass onto them, they’re not ready for, but I let them look and play with them with my supervision. Other things I tell them I’m holding onto for when they get older and then others I’m able to just give to them at this stage in their life. Whatever the item might be, children love rehearsing your memories and childhood. These mementos hold a lot of special meaning because it’s a part of your history. Don’t always just throw away things from your past; your children might be able to identify with those and it may turn out to be a special gift for them.

How does it feel to be two-thirds through the parenting challenge? Hopefully you’ve also gained some ideas of your own along the way. How are your children responding? Do you sense any new inspiration in your role as a parent? The important thing is to realize that you’re not alone. Thousands of parents around the world are making every effort to make that impact while they can. If you missed a couple days, don’t worry. You can always go back and repeat them another day or try some next month. I know you’re already improving as a parent and you’ll never regret it. Thanks again for taking this journey with me!      Feel free to email me or comment with any of your suggestions or tips. If you like the content that RelevantParenting provides, please follow my blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel RelevantParenting. God bless you and I pray God encourages you to make the most of your time with your kids!
Best,
Chad

30 Day Parenting Challenge: Part 1

Pushup-Part 1

Often in life we need accountability. Whether it’s meeting a goal that we’ve set, a spiritual battle that we need help with or even pursuing our own career path at work; we need that encouragement from others to beat the status quo, take risks and elevate our life.  Life is not meant to be conquered alone, but if we have others keeping us in line, that can make all the difference.

What I’d like to propose to you is a 30 Day Parenting Challenge to boost your parenting experiences. I’ll break these up into three sections of ten so make sure and look for Part 2 & 3 coming soon.  Hopefully many of these activities will pay dividends well beyond the moments with your kids.   You can practice these on the corresponding days of the month, pick any one that fits your day specifically, or even allow your children to pick them out for you.

Just like any other successful habit, a commitment to change will help you through those times that you’d rather stay comfortable than pursue a higher calling.   Parenting as you know is no easy task, but with some elbow grease, prayer and a plan; you can make a lifelong impact in those saplings of yours.

  1. Get Started: Truly it’s that simple. Whatever you’ve been considering doing as a parent, just do it. You don’t have to have a perfect plan, you don’t have to be a perfect parent, just get started and you can always improve as you go along. Too many people get stuck in the paralysis of analysis and never take that first step in making a change.   You’ll never know unless you try and you’ll end up regretting it if you don’t. Don’t allow the past to dictate your future. If you have a dream of doing something for your kids, making something for them or making a major change in your lifestyle to be there more for you children; then I say get on with it and you’ll never look back!
  2. Work on one area of weakness with your kids: This could be your temper with them, your lack of involvement, the absence of listening, or a scarcity of physical affection shown to them.   No one is going to be a perfect parent, but think of one thing you could focus on today to do better? I’d say go as far as asking your child what you could do to be a better parent to them.
  3. Say “yes” to their requests: Is it really going to hurt you if they ask you to play soccer in the backyard with them? What about a board game, reading a book to them, or playing house or tea with them? Showing your kids that you believe their world is important along with their desires will give them the confidence to engage you in more important matters down the road.
  4. Change up your routine: Maybe one parent takes the kids to school, but this day the other one does.   Try having dinner outside in the backyard instead of at the dinner table.   Allow the kids to sleep in your room and you sleep in theirs. Cook breakfast for dinner and maybe serve them breakfast in bed.   Give them a day off chores and you do them for them so they can spend that extra time in play.   Show up at one of their sport practices instead of just their game. Children will sometimes forget the grind and routine of everyday life, but these change-ups of routine they will more than likely never forget.
  5. Create a new tradition or celebration for your family: What does your family enjoy doing that you could implement more often? Was there a special occasion in the history of your family that you could celebrate? Maybe it was going through a trial that made everyone stronger, or a spiritual decision that you’ve made as a family.   These traditions will be so intertwined with your kid’s core experiences that they’ll probably carry on some of these tradition with their kids.   Traditions/celebrations are rich in meaning and they can anchor kids in many ways that other activities can’t.
  6. Bless your kids: If you’ve never had the chance of laying your hands on your kids and requesting God’s blessing on their life, you’re missing a great experience. My children often ask me to bless them and it seems to encourage them even if they don’t understand everything I’m praying for.   This was often practiced in scripture and we all need God’s protection and blessings in our lives to flourish anyway.   Try huddling up your child(ren) and pray over them asking God to do wonders in their lives and pour out His blessings on everything they do.
  7. Apologize for your mistakes: I think one of the worst things that we can do as parents is to never apologize to our kids.   Ask your kids flat out what you’ve done to set them back, hurt them, or be a bad example.   Trust me, your kids will tell you and you’ll enjoy some humble pie.   Don’t be that proud parent who can’t admit their wrongs.   If you want to raise bitter kids, than don’t bother with this one.   Sometimes the greatest lessons your children will learn are those that you’ve missed the boat on, but humbly encourage them to take a better path.
  8. Take a parenting sabbatical: I’m not saying to skip your parenting duties, but ask your spouse if you can take a few hours or maybe a half day to evaluate your priorities and goals as a parent. Go to that special park or hike that really gets your mental juices flowing.   Are you doing everything you can to be the best parent? Use this time to come up with an action plan that you can implement to set a new course for your family. We all need to recalibrate at one time or another, and taking some time away from the daily grind will help you figure out a clear path.
  9. Take a road trip: Kids seem to have a natural inclination to explore.   Sometimes we lose a portion of that drive as we age, but going on a road trip has so many connection points as a family that you can do in a couple hours or even a day or two.   Make up a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt with your family.   Find that local historical hotspot that you can peer into the past and learn from it.   Don’t always allow the stacked up chores to prevent you from taking those special times with your children. The chores will always be there, but your kids won’t.
  10. Focus on their love language: Each of your children is going to be different in how they receive and show love. Keying into this early on will make sure that your child’s emotional tank is always full.   If you’re anything like me, certain love languages are easier to meet than others based on your own love language and maybe the current demands on your life.   I know when my children ask specific requests, they’re asking me to show them love the way they feel loved.   Sometimes I have to consciously make an effort to fulfill these requests so I’m meeting their needs.   If your child is always giving you cards, telling you that you’re a good parent, or even giving you lots of kisses and hugs; they’re probably telling you how they want to feel loved as well. Start looking out for these little clues so you can maximize your love shown to them.

Now that you’ve been challenged to focus on specific areas where you might be able to make an immediate impact, it’s time to continue this journey as there’s still two more parts!   Hopefully you’ve experienced some momentum as you’ve made the most important step and that is too just get started.    Later this week you’ll get another 10 days of Parenting Challenge so get ready to make a difference and look for those activities that you might want to repeat later on in the year.

Feel free to email me or comment with any of your suggestions or tips. If you like the content that RelevantParenting provides, please follow my blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel RelevantParenting.   God bless you and I pray God encourages you to make the most of your time with your kids!

Best,

Chad

 

 

20 Unforgettable Moments to Spend with your Children (Part 2)

20 Unforgettable moments part 2

Hopefully you were able to catch part 1 of the two part series of “Unforgettable Moments.” If you didn’t, make sure and catch it here 20 Unforgettable Moments to Spend with Your Children Part 1.   As we learned in part 1, spending those precious experiences with your children will help shape their lives in so many rich ways.   Below is another set of ten “Unforgettable Moments” that will encourage you to take your parenting to the next level. Don’t wait any longer, go for it!

1. Serving Together: One of the most enjoyable things to do with your children is to serve together. You could be helping the elderly couple next door cleaning up their yard, you could deliver Thanksgiving baskets to the needy, you could be volunteering at church together or simply hosting another family over for dinner to be an encouragement to them. Just as we are, children are looking for purpose in their lives.  In the midst of your busy life and schedule, make sure that serving with your kids is at the top of your list.

2. Comforting them when they’re sick: As you know, sometimes kids can get gut wrenching sick.    I remember as a 7th grader getting the flu so badly that my fear of the dark at the time simply did not matter.  I can remember my chicken pox outbreak, my fevers that were so high I had to take baths with ice and many others.  Those “trials” stick with you even though it’s now decades later.  Your kids will remember them to, but they’ll remember more of how you took care of them during that time.   I try to picture as a parent how God takes care of me and I attempt to transfer some of that love and care to my kids.  It’s amazing how a child’s viewpoint of God often stems from their relationship with their parents-especially the father.   Don’t just leave your child to suffer through it, help them get through the trial, endure it properly and strengthen themselves to move on past it.

3. Visiting historical places: For whatever reason, visiting historical places gives a child roots that span beyond his or her lifetime.    Kids often get wrapped up in their own world, thinking that everything revolves around them.  When they see that people lived previously to us with different or the same struggles, yet they accomplished great feats amidst overwhelming odds; it encourages them to do the same.  I remember visiting the Oregon Trail with my children and all of us were amazed at the perseverance and faith it took to make such journey.   To see and feel the ruts that the wagons had been in, the names carved into the wall documenting their journey and sometimes struggles was mesmerizing.    Whether it’s local historical sites in your city, in your state, your country or another country; these experiences can make a huge lasting impression on kids on all sorts of levels

                                       Part of the Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail

4. Praying with your kids: Praying with your kids is just as important if not more important than any other life skill you’ll teach them.  They learn to talk with God just as you model for them.   When you take the time to pray for a need, someone else or expressing praise to God, your children pick up those patterns.   Part of this that we often miss is blessing our kids.   You’re praying over them, laying hands on them for God’s protection, His blessing and His guiding through life.   My kids will often ask me to bless them and when their sick or distressed, they ask me to pray for them.  These are the types of good habits that they need to establish in life- so it’s best to start early.

5. Road trips: Anyone up for a road trip? Whether you enjoy road trips or not, you can’t deny that you have a captive audience for “x” amount of hours. I can remember my family taking three day road trips to Texas from Michigan and all the memories in between.   The stops at our favorite hotels on the way, the restaurant that we’d visit and even the po-dunk gas stations out in the middle of nowhere.   I used to dwell on the scenery, the passing cars and just dream.  I worked through life, dreamt of what life would be like when I got older and of course had those fun conversation with my brother and family.    If you can’t afford a full road trip, take a day trip just to get out and explore.   Your kids will love these times and you’ll share some experiences that they’ll never forget!

6. Uncomfortable moments: Uncomfortable moments are different for everyone.   What I mean by uncomfortable moments are the things that happen that seem so inconvenient, or a hassle as an adult, but your children view them as such as opportune time to experience something different.   Maybe it’s when the electricity goes out and you have to wear winter gear to bed just to stay warm, or when it’s a blizzard outside and your kids ask you to go out and play in the snow or when you’re walking up the stairs and the kids see your leg as their ride up them.  Life is full of uncomfortable moments-right?   I remember when we lived in Denver it hailed and rained like we’ve never seen before.  It used to flood the area around our house several inches deep. Guess what my kids wanted to do and they didn’t want to do it alone.  Now, I don’t have a problem getting wet, but did I really want to go out and slide in six inches of muddy water with who knows what floating by?  I think you know the answer, but when I give up and embrace some of these uncomfortable experiences with my kids, those are some of the most enjoyable and memorable times we’ve had.

7. Seasonal Traditions: Beyond holidays, there are so many traditions that you can establish as a family.  Maybe it’s that special hangout that you go every year when the leaves start turning, or the favorite fishing spot or even the summer nights to the ice cream place.   Children love routine and it gives them structure and something to look forward to.   If you’re less creative, a simple search online will deliver thousands of results for seasonal traditions to try.   We enjoy picnics at certain times of the year, camping and roasting marshmallows or even living room sleep overs as a family.  Whatever you do, try some different things and maybe fit them into your schedule every year.

8. Wrestling: I can’t tell you how important the physical contact is with my children.   Yes, sometimes there are bruises and even bloodshed from us getting too rough, but I can tell when I go long periods of time without wrestling-it affects their emotional state.  Whether you have boys or girls, having that physical touch through rough housing, tickling or just physical interaction really deepens your relationship with your kids.   Again, taking time to be personal with them goes so far.   If you’re detached emotionally, never showing physical affection than you children will feel the effects of that.  They have to know the smell of your skin, feel the strength of your body and even the scruffiness of an unshaven beard.    Kids will never forget this close of interaction.  Remember that everything we do, pictures how God is with his children. If you’re intimate and show them that personal affection (even through play time), they will project that on God and feel that he is personal and intimate with them as well.

9. Through a trial: Going through a trial as a family can be one of the greatest lessons a child ever experiences. Whether the trial is handled properly or not, the child will learn-somethings good, somethings bad. The important thing is to help them view their trials from a biblical standpoint and learn how to cope with them responsibly.   I remember when I was unemployed for 9 months a few years back.   As a family, that was a difficult time since we had worked hard to save our money previously, sell our home for a profit and look to start fresh with all the “security” we had built up.  God had different plans and all that effort and saved money went to expenses while I was out of work.  Thankfully we had the money to float us through, but it was a stressful time.   I do however remember praying with my kids for a new career, thanking God together for his provision and praying and seeking God more than I ever have in my life.   Even though I was out of work, I finished my first book during that time Lights Out! which had been a lifelong dream of mine.  I wouldn’t have been able to finish it without that extra time of being unemployed.   I tell that story to my kids that although live throws you curve balls, God always has a plan behind it.  These are invaluable lessons that will stick with your kids the rest of their lives.

10. Helping them embrace their milestones: Every child has milestones and the better job we do as parents to help them embrace and pass those milestones with flying colors, the better foundation our children will have at taking on life.   These could be graduations, overcoming fears or past limitations, concrete spiritual decisions, puberty, etc.  We have to recognize the struggle and challenge in a child’s world to help them hurdle these experiences in life.  We’ve been through many of them as adults and assume our children can get through them if we did.  Children need life coaches, encouragers, mentors, and tough love to help them navigate and make sense of their struggles. You as a parent have that opportunity like no one else.    They’ll survive without your help, but wouldn’t you rather them thrive with your help?   Look at your child’s life today.  What are they going through or about to go through that they need an anchor for their ship- to say “stay the course, you’re on the right track; you can do it!”  These words and ones like them are profound in the ears of your child.  Don’t let the busyness of life prevent you from noticing these milestones.

This has certainly been one of my longer posts (part 1 & 2), but one of the more important ones I believe.   Your children only grow up once and you only have a chance of parenting them at this stage-once.  Don’t throw that away for lesser goals or experiences. Embrace the richness that you can have in a deep relationship with your children and you’ll never regret it.

Feel free to email me or comment with any of your suggestions or tips.  If you like the content that RelevantParenting provides, please follow my blog or subscribe to my Youtube channel RelevantParenting.   God bless you and I pray God encourages you to make the most of your time with your kids!

Best,

Chad

 

Fear of the Dark: Rite of Passage, or Destructive Emotion?

Cover-small

If you go to the library to find some resources on helping your children get over the fear of the dark; you’ll probably be hard pressed to find very much.  Although the fear of the dark is said to plague millions of children, it is still a subject that most parents know very little about.

Most parents will do just about anything after frustration and exhaustion takes over. One of the best things you can help give your children is nights of peaceful sleep.    Millions of children around the world would love this gift, but how can parents ensure this amidst common childhood fears?

The reality is that many children sleep with their parents for weeks, if not months. Parents hire therapists to help their children overcome such anxieties and many are simply left to deal with their fears on their own. While most methods have their validity, some are more effective than others.

No matter what approach you use or stage that you are as a parent, spending just a little time to help your kids through this difficult stage can have an impact for the rest of their lives.   In a simple way, dealing with the fear of the dark is probably one of the earliest fears a child is confronted with.

As parents, this is a great opportunity to help them know how to deal with fears in general. Many may argue that this is just a rite of passage for kids, but the fear of the dark lingers into adulthood for thousands of people and it can give rise to other fears.  Rites of passage are intended for the betterment of a person, but allowing fear to accumulate over prolonged periods of time and with no boundaries can be the start down a path of destructive emotions.

The younger the child, the less that they can separate their fantasies from reality. A simple traumatic experience or an innocent experience taken out of context can haunt a child for years.    Being conscious as a parent of your child’s struggle is ultimately going to help determine the outcome of their struggle.  Below are ten things you can start doing tonight to give the gift of peaceful sleep to your child.

  • Engage with your child: A firefighter never faced real fire prior to having sufficient training away from the hot zone. Don’t wait till fear strikes before you engage in conversations about fear with your child. Assume that your children will deal with at least one major fear or several growing up so start planning now.   What does fear look like in your child? What brings out fearful emotions in them? Finally, how does your child respond when confronted with fear?
  • Identify the triggers: Every child is different and the same goes to how they respond to circumstances and even their own imagination.   Does the television in your house spur frightful thoughts, does the tension in your home create undo anxiety in your child or did your child have a traumatic experience that you haven’t made sure that your child is dealing with properly? The better you know your child, the better you can help them through these challenges.
  • Deal with fear properly: The old saying is true that kids will do what you do, not what you say. If you struggle with fear yourself and fail to deal with it properly, more than likely your kids will follow suit. Get some help, identify the triggers and engage a friend or a spouse to help you stay courageous.   Your kids will learn more from how you deal with fear than they will reading ten books about it.
  • Declare war on fear: Fear is one of the most destructive emotions your child can give into. Fear keeps people back when they should be moving forward, fear destroys relationships, it hampers personal growth and it can lead people down enslaved paths of destructive emotions. Don’t allow fear to take root in your family. Rid it wherever it claims land in your household and your children will be that much better for it.
  • Rearrange the room: Often times a simple rearrangement can mean all the difference to a child struggling with the shadows and strange sounds of a dark night.   Cutting branches away from the window, getting darker shades, closing the closet, facing the bed away from the moonlight are just a few practical ideas.
  • Enjoy the night: There are thousands of nighttime wonders to fascinate a child rather than simply being afraid of it.   Creation has so much beauty that we often take for granted what darkness actually reveals.   We tend to think in terms of what darkness hides, but in reality darkness opens up a whole new world of glowing insects, nocturnal animals, shooting stars and the wonderful moonlight glow. Take time to introduce your child to a few of these so they can gain appreciation for the night instead of only being afraid of it.
  • Find a hero: Find someone that your children can esteem because of their bravery. We all face fear in our lives, but not all people are courageous. Read examples of men and women who have done brave things despite their fears and remind your children of such stories.   Even children can rise to bravery and courage when faced with an example to live up to.
  • Slow down: Many parents are so busy dealing with their own problems that they fail to see that their children are going through the same, if not a myriad of their own struggles.   Don’t just assume they’ll work it out, slow your life down to see the details. A well said conversation at the right time can make all the difference and give your child the strength to take on bigger challenges throughout life.
  • Speak to their identity: Don’t make light of your child’s fear and put them down for it, but rather focus on times that they are strong.   When you say things like “Wow, that was brave,” or “I noticed how strong you were;” you’ve just given your children an upgrade on their armor and they’re ready to meet the next big challenge in their life. Children have enough chiseling at their confidence outside their home, the last thing they need is an unsupportive parent.
  • Don’t give up: Our kids are some of the greatest investments we have in life, therefore the effort is worth the payoff.   Kids often go through cycles of fear as they face different challenges in life and their imagination grows stronger with age.   This typically isn’t a one night deal where you’ve conquered fear and it will never rear its ugly head again. Learn to keep watch on important milestones that your child is approaching as new fears or old resurrected ones like to visit again.

Hopefully you can see by now that if parents are willing to take an active role in helping their children, there are dozens of ideas to help your child no matter what their age.     You can take a child who fears the darkness and begin helping him or her enjoy the beauty of the nighttime instead.     Below are several “fearbusters” that can aid in your courageous plan.

Fearbuster 1: Find out from your child what their favorite nighttime activity is and try to capitalize on it.   The goal is to engage them in as many comforting and enjoyable experiences before bed.

Fearbuster 2: Break out the tent, the sheets, or whatever you need to make an indoor fort for sleeping.     Kids thrive on unique experiences and an indoor adventure will surely get your kid’s imagination headed in the right direction.

Fearbuster 3:  Find some every day symbols that speak of strength.  Maybe you get a patch or a pin, or even a picture of something your child can aspire too.  These can be things such as shields, strong animals, brave people, etc.

Fearbuster 4:  Play a nighttime scavenger hunt with your children.   What creatures do you see or hear? What smells are present at night that aren’t during the day?  Lastly, what kind of shapes do you see in the stars or night sky?

Fearbuster 5: Celebrate courageous moments with your child.     Give liberal praise, have a formal celebration if your child makes great strides in overcoming their fear.

Fearbuster 6:  Don’t be too quick to offer a crutch.    There are times when it is necessary to step in a take a child out of a fearful situation.  Many times however, we do things as parents out of convenience, but it has no lasting help for the child.  Remember, a child becomes stronger when they are given the tools to overcome their fears and therefore choose courage, and not always just given the easy way out.

Fearbuster 7:  As mentioned before, talk to your child during the day about fear and don’t wait till it’s nighttime when they’re in the thick of it.   Your child will be in a much better state of mind and will probably open up much better to the things he or she struggles with.

Fearbuster 8: Try some calming music or a book on tape that encourages delightful thoughts instead of frightful ones. Even better if you can read or sing these to them, but at the least play them.

If you’d like more information about helping your kids overcome the fear of the dark, check out my book Lights Out! Helping Your Kids Overcome Their Fear of the Dark on Amazon and you can begin on the journey of helping your kids become more courageous. If you enjoy this content, please follow my blog and my Youtube channel RelevantParenting.

Best,

Chad