I wanted to discuss the topic of love. Specifically the differences of unconditional love versus conditional love and how important it is for our kids.
Unconditional love means you love someone regardless of what they do. This can mean what they do for you, how they act, etc
Conditional love typically means we require someone to be a certain way or do certain things in order for us to love them.
However there are still circumstances I recall (and I’m sure tons of kids do) where you feel like you need to make a specific choice or your parents will get mad, or even worse, you feel like they won’t love you.
I recall the conversation many many times in which my parents made the statement, “we will love you regardless of anything”. This may have applied to a situation in which I was in trouble, not wanting to tell the truth , or just something had happened.
Children need to feel that your love is unconditional!
Often time we mix up love with approval:
Here are some things to never (or very rarely do):
1) Withhold affection because they didn’t do something right
2) Let their accomplishments effect your mood. When they win you are happy and when they lose you are sad/mad.
3) Expect them to be a way they are not. For example if your child is not good at sports and you are getting really frustrated and upset that they are not good at it, that’s conditional love.
Here are a few ways to do it:
Say it clearly and repeatedly – let them know that no matter what, you will love them. If they fail a test, it has nothing to do with your love. If they lose a game in sports, it doesn’t effect your love. Even when they lie, it doesn’t effect how you love them.
Focus on the positive – If your child is bossy, you can say “You really like to take charge of the situation. This is going to help you be a good leader.” You will then need to teach them about cooperation and working with others.
Listen & Notice them – Be sure to let them see and feel that you are listening. Be empathetic. Also regularly point out things about them that you love: inside and out.
Accept their Faults & Mistakes – In the last episode we talked about what to do when they make a mistake. This is crucial. You are not punishing them, you are trying to teach them how to do things correctly and take care of themselves. Be sure to forgive them when they do make mistakes. They need to know your love is not conditioned based on them behaving correctly.