Monday, August 26, 2013

Are You Depositing "Money in the Bank" with Your Child?

We all have countless opportunities each day to make deposits or withdrawals in our children. We are the primary cardholders when it comes to making sure they are getting the love and encouragement that they need on a regular basis. We can either build them up and add to their "emotional bank accounts" or we can tear them down until they are depleted and overdrawn.

I was recently introduced to this principle (through Stephen Covey's book "7 Habits of Highly Effective Families") and I began to ask myself, how are you adding to the accounts of those around you? It is changing the way I relate to those around me--specifically in my immediate family.

Though my daughter is itty-bitty, I have countless opportunities to "add to her account" each day through smiling at her often and noticing her accomplishments. I also have opportunities to subtract from her account through disinterest, frustration, and criticism. As she grows, each interaction will be one in which I add to her "account" or I take away from it. Of course there will be times when we, as parents, will make withdrawals from our children's accounts. They will get in trouble, and we may lose our cool on occasion. The key is, are we building up enough equity in them with our kindness and support, that when we do subtract from their account it doesn't become a crisis situation?

If we want to grow healthy, confident, loving children, we have to make sure we are adding to their emotional accounts every day. So here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to make sure we are filling them up:

 Do I greet my child with joy and undivided attention when they get home from school (or I get home from work), or am I distracted, tired, and inattentive? 

Am I quick to say kind words to my child, to tell them what they are doing well, and to express my love in verbal and tangible ways?

Do I make a conscious effort to spend time with my children on their level? Do I play games with them (even if I would rather watch television), share dessert with them (even though I would rather eat it all myself after they go to bed), and engage them in things they find interesting (even though I think I might die if I have to hear that knock-knock joke one more time)?

Do I speak positively about my children to others? Do I spend more time sharing my thankfulness and appreciation of them or do I spend more time complaining about how difficult they are? 

Do I have a thankful heart in regards to my children? Do I (in my own heart) feel blessed and joyful to have these kids with their own uniqueness and quirks--even when their decisions aren't the best and it seems like they will never learn?

I'm sure there are many more questions we could ask ourselves, but these are some of the "self-checks" we can do to help us be good stewards of our children. The same, of course, can be said in our relationships with our spouses (or any other relationship we want to be pouring into on a regular basis). Our words and actions can be an investment into our children or they can suck the value (and connection with us) out of them. When we make the choice to be investors, the return investment is priceless.

The idea of the "Emotional Bank Account" is borrowed from 
"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families" by Stephen R. Covey. 
Also, today I am linking up with A Better Mom for Better Mom Mondays!

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