Young and old, even adults, we all need the gaze of our parents. Learn how to attend to the emotional needs of your older children.
I’m almost 41 years old, and I still need my mom. I’m not sorry to say it. I am excited to call her to tell her how it went, I like to hear her memories of other times, and I really enjoy her company. But despite this personal certainty, I must confess that sometimes I consider that “I already gave a lot of attention” to my older children, and I focus only on the younger ones.
In this way, I try to make time for everything, because with the house, my personal issues and the attention to my family, sometimes it is difficult for me to comply with everything in a complete way. However, all of our children need us! Not just the little ones.
In this text, I want to share with you some strategies to know how to read and attend to the needs of our older children, so that -who have children of different ages- we can embrace everyone’s requirements in love and attention.
Mom, I need you
The Mexican psychologist Julia Borbolla list some behaviors that our children may present, which indicate that they are having a hard time, and they need us:
– Changes in sleep
– Lack of appetite
– Absence of physical contact
– Stop doing activities that generated pleasure
– Be pending or very exposed to the news
– Excessive crying
To these we can add that they become demanding, that they have frequent tantrums or are irritable, that they only want to be alone, and aggressiveness.
First thing: connection
If you detect any of these characteristics in your older child or you simply want to give them more and better care, it’s time to focus for a while (I recommend a couple of weeks) on him or her. Approach him at different times during the day to talk with him, take an interest in his things, invite him to do someactivitiestogether. Most importantly, make sure they have fun and laugh together at least once a day.
Be careful, if it is not common for you to give these attention spaces to your older child, it is likely that he will look at you with suspicion and reject you. Don’t let their reactions put you off. Try harder, and in increasingly creative and enjoyable ways for him or her. The connection is the basis for unraveling the inner storm that he or she may be living within.
When they are overwhelmed, our children feel drowning in the sea of emotions that invade them, perhaps they fear that if they let you in, they will overflow. Your loving perseverance to connect will give them the security to open their hearts to you.
Now the direct dialogue and between the lines
Since you have invested quality time with your child, it is time to try to find out what is going on inside their heart or mind. You are the one who knows your child, but at first I don’t recommend starting with a direct question like: » How have you been feeling lately? «, Or« how are you? «Well, they are very general.
Instead, you could start by explaining your concern: “ I’ve seen you have trouble sleeping, what do you think is the cause? “, for example. The suggestion is that you make observations from your vision and ask him if your feeling is correct or not, and if he has something he wants to share with you to work it together.
It is not certain that our children want to tell us what happens, because sometimes they do not know it themselves, especially if they go throughadolescence. It is then when you must become a detective and observe a lot, listen with your heart to their gestures, attitudes and words.
Love is always necessary
It is not only necessary, but basic for the development of our children. Astudycarried out by the University of Washington states that ” affection can further develop the hippocampus, an essential brain structure when it comes to learning, memorizing, and managing stress.” They also concluded that an underdeveloped hippocampus generates a greater tendency to depression and little tolerance to living under pressure.
To these scientific reasons we must add that our children must feel loved. This requires a consistent effort on our part, because – due to the individual characteristics of each child and their history – each one receives love in a different way.
You have to know how to give love
The author Gary Chapman, in his book The Languages of Love (a gem, I highly recommend it), divides the affective needs that most fill our hearts into four types of language. Although his proposal was initially made for couples, he already has several versions of the book for children, adolescents and more.
Knowing these languages and locating that of our children will be very useful to us to be effective in the expression of affection. I explain them:
This language, which is fundamental in early childhood, remains a permanent need for some people, with whom caressing, taking them by the hand and in short, touching them, makes them feel full inside.
Words of affirmation
Here the author refers to the words that express recognition, validation and empowerment. The person verbally acknowledges the advancements, positive qualities and opportunities of another and thereby “fills his tank” emotionally, as the author would say.
Sharing time together doing activities that both you and your child enjoy is language number three. When you put your busyness aside and pay full attention and active interactions, you let your child know that you love him and enjoy his company.
This gesture, used by everyone on special occasions, makes some people feel very loved. It is not about always giving expensive gifts, but showing with physical details that we have thought of that little person, and we value her so much that we make it clear.
Acts of service
Carrying out activities such as preparing food, attending to those who feel unwell, releasing the burden to someone who is overwhelmed, belong to this language of love. By seeking to perform acts of service, you show attention to the needs of another, and show them with dedication and time how much you care.
In this test prepared by the author, you can detect the language of each of your children (children or teenagers) to make your love for them more apparent.
As you can see, observation and dedication work wonders. I wish you an excellent coexistence with your older children, which will generate much more empathy and make your family life even better. Tell us your progress!