It’s spring break and you’re stuck at home with your kids. It’s not exactly the situation you may have anticipated for your family, but with work, activities, and family responsibilities, you simply can’t leave town. However, a week at home with your kids can be the greatest parenting opportunity. Seize the week by spending time together and really talking to your kids.
During a typical week, you probably see your child in the morning and evening; both times are rushed and full of activity. Kids need to talk with their parents and know their parents are listening. A week of conversation and active listening will help your child feel supported and loved. The list of necessary conversations to have with your child are endless, but tweens and teens rarely initiate these discussions. It’s much better when parents start the conversations. Below are five key topics I recommend talking about with your child.
Body changes and relationships. Take time to talk to your child about puberty, safe sex, and relationships. When children understand their changing bodies and sexual health, they make wiser choices about relationships and self-care. If your child is currently in a relationship, talk to them. Emotional and physical abuse happens to teens at an alarming rate. When parents make themselves available to talk, kids listen. Actively listen and refrain from lecturing.
Respect of self and others both online and offline. Discussing the importance of self-respect and respect of others raises the child’s ability to resist peer pressure. Children who feel detached from their parents often have a low opinion of themselves. They give into peer pressure as way to fit in or be accepted. Let your child know the important role they have in your family; kids learn respect by having chores and responsibilities at home. Parents also need to follow through with consequences for unfinished work. Talk to your child about the importance of their choices and let them struggle through the consequences. Parents should include the consequences of sexting, texting while driving, and cyberbullying.
Reputation and values. Parents could spend an entire week on just this topic. With social media on the rise, kids need to hear what their parents value and hold sacred; kids learn their values from their parents. Explain to your child that their reputation becomes their “brand” when they’re adults and what they say or do has an impact. Promising to do something when you have no intention of doing it shows the world a lack of integrity. Ask your child if they want to represent themselves that way. Ask them what they value most. What’s most important to your child?
The value of money. If you haven’t talked to your child about money and helped them understand the importance of saving money, this is an ideal time. If you have teens, what are their career goals? How will they budget to achieve their goals? Younger children love when parents talk to them and ask them what they want to become. Show your child that you care about what they want to do in life; it’s a valued connection.
Remind your child of what you admire most about them. I have adults in my office who frequently tell me what helps them get through bad times is remembering what their parents admired most about them. Parents are the most influential person in a child’s life. Reminding your child of their strengths will help them be resilient during bad times. Take time this week to admire one thing about your child and tell them. The older they get, the more they need to be reminded.
Take advantage of a spring break at home with the kids. You may not go back to work feeling rested, but you'll feel closer to and inspired by your kids. Have a wonderful week!