6 Ingredients to Satisfy Your Children’s Hunger for Security
Do you know what children hunger for most? Security—the kind that flows from relationship. More than anything, children want to know they are secure in their parents’ love and affection. They long to know the security of unconditional acceptance in their parents’ lives. If this hunger goes unsatisfied, children remain restless. They go on the prowl, constantly on the lookout for a relationship that provides acceptance, love, and affection. They will search through the cupboards of community, school, peer groups, and social clubs to find it; and most likely “find it in all the wrong places.” In their restless search, they will struggle with feelings of insignificance, find themselves taken advantage of, and still come up hungry for the security that only a family can provide. How can you satisfy this hunger for security that drives your children? Let me suggest 6 ingredients to satisfy your children’s hunger for security.
1. Listen. Don’t lecture. Don’t jump in to solve the problem. Listen. Listen with your ears to hear the words and their tone of voice to hear the emotion. Take time to not only understand what they say but what they mean as well. Listen with your eyes. Observe their facial expression and body so you can better understand the emotion behind the words. Finally, listen with your actions as you respond to the need expressed. If they express a need for assistance, assist them. If they express a need to be heard, hear them. If they express a need for acknowledgement, offer praise and congratulations.
2. Catch ’em in the act…of doing something good. When you do, give voice to your pride. Let them hear the words, “I’m proud of you.” Express your pride in private and in public. You can speak your words of pride or write them in a note. Either way, let them know that you are proud of the person they have become, the effort they put forth, the growth you observe, the positive behavior they engage in, and the good decisions they have made. Even Jesus received the praise of His Father. Take the time to acknowledge your children’s good behavior.
3. Offer consistent discipline. Consistency in discipline requires that we acknowledge positive behavior and correct inappropriate behavior. Remaining consistent means we care enough to bring out the very best in our children. We nurture and reveal their “natural bent,” their God-given strengths, abilities, and personality. As we remain consistent in teaching and shaping their godly character, they come to know us as steady. They also learn that their misbehavior does not overwhelm us. We, as parents, remain patient, loving, and strong in the face of their misbehavior, guiding them toward a lifestyle that will bring greater happiness and fulfillment. This knowledge helps them grow secure in our love and affection, even in the midst of misbehavior and loving discipline.
4. Build routines into your family life. Routines build a level of predictability into family life that provides a sense of security and stability for our children. It allows our children to anticipate “what comes next” and to relax in the knowledge that certain things happen on a regular basis. They come to know that Mom and Dad may leave for work or the store, but they always return. They look forward to regular family mealtimes and the interactions that accompany those meals. They grow in the stability of a regular bedtime and the benefits of rest. As families practice morning routines, mealtime routines, bedtime routines, and various family traditions, children develop an identity and stability that promotes security.
5. Pour on the affection. Let your children know you love and value them. Show your affection with a hug, a good night kiss, a high five, a squeeze of the shoulders. Pour on affectionate words of admiration and love by saying, “I love you” before bed or as you leave the house for work. Satisfy their need for affection by remaining true to your word and keeping your promises. Spice up the flavor of affection with unconditional acceptance…even when your children are moody, grumpy, or irritable.
6. Finally, give your children your time. Adding in the ingredients described above will demand your time. Give it freely. Children determine what is most valuable in your life by watching where you invest your time. Let them see you investing your time in your family and, specifically, in their lives.
6 ingredients that, when mixed together, will satisfy your child’s hunger for security—the meat and potatoes of security. Perhaps you can add in some dessert. Enjoy!