Inside: Belonging means creating an environment where we all feel like a tight-knit tribe, we’re all equal and we’re rowing in the same direction to reach our goals. In this article, I’ll share 10 Ways to Create a Positive Home Where Your Kids Thrive, so that we can build a strong emotional connection with our children.
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we have an innate desire to belong, to matter and feel safe. As parents, we need to realize the implications and importance of these needs are in our children.
Belonging means creating an environment where we all feel like a tight-knit tribe, we’re all equal and we’re rowing in the same direction to reach our goals. Think about gangs—where people will literally kill to stay in the tribe. That’s how powerful this stuff is. ~via Christine Comaford
I was talking to a single dad who was concerned with his son, who kept sneaking out of his mom’s house. The father was confused because he said the home he would sneak off to was also a single family home and the dad and son were not good people. As the father finished up, I remembered this story and I shared it with him: There was a homeless lady begging on the street, so she could eat. The woman she approached offered to give her a ride to the homeless shelter and pay for her to stay at the local shelter for a week. Hours later the homeless lady was seen back on the street again. The woman who gave her money was baffled to find her on the street again. She was so curious and frustrated so she approached the homeless lady and asked her, “Why would anyone leave a roof over their head and a hot meal?” The homeless lady responded, “Because the street is where I’m accepted. It’s where I belong.”
We crave belonging, so much so, that we are willing to sleep on the dangerous streets and go without food to feel–acceptance and belonging.
I then asked this concerned father, “Does your son feel like his home is where he belongs? Does he feel accepted there or is he constantly criticized?
I can’t control the messages my children get outside our home or how others will make them feel or even what people say to them, but I sure as heck can be intentional about creating a home where my children thrive and feel safe. A home that is positive and not filled with negativity spewing every where.
But the reality is we’re not perfect and there will be times where we lose our cool and say things we regret. It will happen, but because we’ve been intentional about building a positive foundation we can bounce right back up from those mistakes. Life is busy, hard and sometimes down right stressful and you’ll notice it even more when you decide that you want to make your home a haven.
But don’t give up! Please believe me when I tell you,
No other person in this world has as great an impact on your kids as you do.”
Even your teens who regularly act like they could care less about what you say or do, actually do care. Please don’t let that keep you from entering into their world, however, painful that may be.
I want our home to be a place where my children and spouse feel free to be themselves, where they know they can mess up and still be loved, a place free of negativity. A safe place. I know it won’t be perfect but we can definitely try to create a safe haven even in the midst of our imperfections.
In the midst of the imperfection, burst of anger or tantrums let’s continue to intentionally set foundations of love and belonging, encouragement where our loved ones know they matter and they know they are safe.
As humans we are constantly seeking to belong, to know we matter and to feel safe–it’s how we are wired. It’s neurological and it all comes together to equal trust.
Love–belonging + mattering–encouragement + safety = TRUST & CONNECTION
10 Ways to Create a Positive Home Where Your Kids Thrive
- Affirm. Affirm your family members with words that speak life. Say I love you as often as you remember. Verbally tell those in your home they matter. Each person in your family contributes in a unique way with their talents, skills and personality. Each of us makes a difference! So think about how each person does this in your home and let them know. Pick one family member who lives in your home and each day–affirm them. Go into the following week if needed. Here are some suggestions–28 Things Your Family Needs to Hear
- Stop the negative talk. Name calling, whether it’s from an adult in your home or the children, this should never be allowed. Even if it’s done jokingly or “lovingly”. You may not know but Latinos love to use the term “gordita (fatty)” in an endearing way. So I grew up with this but I happen to be a chubby kid so it was never in my mind, endearing. To this day, I struggle with seeing myself as something else. The words we speak to our children can be internalized in ways we will never know, so choose wisely what you say to your kids. As parents, we shouldn’t do it jokingly to our children or spouse, nor should you allow your kids to name call. In our home joking around is fine, but name calling is where I draw the line. When I hear my kids do it, I put a stop to the name calling. Both my husband and I, call each other out (in love), if something slips out of our mouth that comes across as name calling. My son had a friend over and the friend called him stupid. I heard it from the other room so I listened in to see how this was going to play out. My son said, “Don’t call me stupid. It’s a bad word.” The friend responded with, “It’s not a bad word and my mom let’s me say it.” I approached them at this point and I calmly said, “In our house we don’t talk to each other using those words, but if you’re frustrated why don’t you explain what’s happening.” I had to let our little guest know our house is safe place. My children are not allowed to talk to him in that manner and neither is he. This world can be cruel and hateful and sometimes kids dish it out to each other so we have to help set limits in our home.
- Show them how much you love them, don’t just tell them. Obviously, telling them is also important which is further explained above but showing our kids various forms of healthy affection goes a long way in their love tank. According to research, the power of touch in the lives of children is so vital that it physically changes the brain. These healthy forms of touch and affection build a strong emotional connection with our children. This strong bond helps in the midst of the challenging moments and growing years. In the midst of the tantrum you may not want to give your child a hug but listen to what the author Kelly Bartlett says, “A warm, secure hug given during a moment of emotional chaos works to restore the chemical balance in a child’s brain; physical contact from an adult’s mature body helps calm the immature one.” Why We Still Need to Cuddle With Our Tweens
- Place positive quotes and scripture around your house. I’ve always loved quotes and I constantly find myself writing them down in my little notebooks as I hear them or read them, but in the past few years I started putting them up on my wall and fridge for my whole family to benefit from them. At the entrance of our house I wrote out these words, “Home is a place where laughter, love and grace flow. At the entrance of our dining room is a quote that says, “You are braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem, Smarter than you think.” I have verses hanging all over my house and I personally gave each of our kids this DIY art work, which I regularly bless them with before they leave our house.
- Make your rules and limits clear. This one may seem a bit random to include but I think clear limits help set the tone for a positive home. Nobody wants to live walking on egg shells, so discuss with your children your expectations and make them clear. As humans we are able to process consequences a bit more easily when we know it was done justly (even if we may not agree), and come to realize that our “punishment” was a result of our actions and not just because someone was in a bad mood.
- Set the ambiance. Play music that restores peace. I have made it a habit in our home to play soft or praise music while I make breakfast, to set the tone for my own attitude and our morning. It also helps me handle more calmly any whining that might arise and sometimes even tune it out. Also, throughout the day light candles that smell good. Place plants around your home. I made this terrarium for our dining room and I absolutely love it. All of these little details help set a peaceful tone to your home. Also, don’t be afraid to set a fun ambience with silly dancing music. We especially love to do this! My kids love dance parties.
- Quality time. I’m the first to tell you this quality time goes a LONG way. It’s kind of goes with what I was sharing in point 3–building strong emotional connections. When we fill our kid’s love tank with quality time it’s builds strong and effective connections with them. 25 Ways to Connect With Your Child It doesn’t have to be an expensive outing or take all day. You can go outside and swing in your back yard and talk about something they love. These moments set the foundation and open up the doors for future conversations that you want them to have with you. You can do this by spending 10-15 minutes a day with them individually or you can do this with quality family time.
- Stop the yelling! I used to pride myself in not losing my cool with my kids. But that was back when I didn’t have any children. Seriously, though around the third child and all the demands of life I started to notice that I was loosing my cool more often than I wanted. Yelling definitely sets a tone in your home–an ambiance of rebelliousness or fear. We don’t want either of those permeating the heart of our homes or the heart of our children. I know this is easier said than done, so remember tip #10 and ask for accountability from another adult if you are finding yourself constantly in this place.
- Replace the negative. We have to model positivity if we want it to permeate the walls of our home. Our children learn from us, how to treat others and how to respect themselves. We have to be intentional about the grace and kindness we speak to ourselves. Don’t put yourself down, speak nicely to yourself. For every negative comment or complaint that comes out of your mouth, replace it with a positive.
- Ask for forgiveness. There’s nothing like forgiveness to remove the cloud of negativity that hangs over you when we spout off complaints or comments that aren’t uplifting. Next time you say something critical to your child or spouse–apologize. Seriously, it’s amazing how it helps clear the air and builds connection.
Remember, the greater the feeling that we are in this together, that we are safe, that we personally matter and make a difference and are contributing to the greater good; the more connected we will be as a family.
Let’s start this week and take small steps to make our home a place where our children belong, matter and are loved–a safe haven.
Here’s this weeks challenge!
This weeks challenge start with one step. Pick one from above and start practicing it. Then add another one the following week.
This article is Day 3 of 21 Days: (Re)Discovering the Heart of Your Home! As we consider our house let’s think beyond making beds, cleaning dishes and doing laundry. As we think about homemaking let’s look beyond whether we work outside the home, work in the home, are single, empty nesters or don’t have children… Let’s put all of that aside and let’s view it through the lens of relationships and let that guide us. What is the purpose of the space between these four walls? What do I want to overflow from our home and from my heart to my children, my spouse, my guests, my neighbors…? Cultivating a home is so much more than keeping a clean house, making food from scratch, having an organized and tidy home it’s about cultivating beauty, laughter, peace and love in my family and in my relationships.
Share with me some of the simple ways you create a positive home?