You may be curious about how 1502 kids spoke to us about what they really need. The number represents more than 1500 kids we have spoken to, taught, counselled and cared for in our previous careers as professional school teachers. The other two kids are our own little munchkins who are the world to us.
In our years as school teachers, we have taught children from 4 to 17 and they don't differ much in what they need from parents to be really happy. It breaks our heart to see so many children growing up really unhappy because their parents don't realise their unfulfilled needs. It breaks our hearts even more when these kids get into trouble, neglect their studies and become really jaded and bitter with life.
So what do kids really want?
1. Kids want undivided attention from their parents.
School teachers do speak one-on-one with individual students regularly to connect with them. In these sessions, we ask about their personal lives and academic journey. We try to guide them along and be a listening ear to their problems. The CHIEF COMPLAINT when we ask them or talk about family is "my parents don't have time for me". Kids tell us that they don't have anyone to talk to at home. There is a disconnection between parent and child.
It is paramount that we make time for our kids DAILY. It can be as simple as finding half an hour to sit together and enjoy a snack together. TALK to your kids. This is a time to feel emotionally connected between a human to another. Put your phones away! Talk about life. Talk about a tv show. Talk about anything interesting and laugh a lot. You'll be surprised how much kids thrive on just a little undivided attention from their parents.
Asking about their homework or nagging at them to do chores do not count as connecting/talking!
This undivided attention will help your child feel grounded, loved, secure and happy!
2. Kids want encouragement/praise
"What is the point of studying so hard?"....
"Cher, (our short-form name every kid calls us by)....nobody cares..."
I often ask myself, why do kids say these things? Why are they so unmotivated and jaded with life? They are only kids!
The reason came pretty clear to me when I praised a child for his effort and he teared. (He had been failing and managed to get 60% for that assignment). This is a little boy in elementary/primary school. He worked so much harder and felt a lot more motivated for the rest of the year. It was like magic.
Growing up in an asian society, praise and encouragement are hard to come by. Children are taught to face their tasks with discipline and responsibility because it is their duty. They feel discouraged when they don't do well. The sense of duty doesn't make much sense to them at a tender age.
Parents must see the power of encouraging words and praises. Words of affirmation is a love language and an emotional need. Praise your children for their effort. Thank them for trying. Encourage them when they struggle.
Say: "I'm proud of you for packing your bag on your own!", "You did a good job clearing the table after dinner!", "I like that you tried so hard to complete the math homework even though you didn't like it!", "If you keep going, you will succeed, don't give up!". It makes a world of a difference to them!
3. Kids want unconditional love
Kids should never be made to feel that they need to merit their parents' love. Being a parent of two, I realise that kids get bored with their toys and things very quickly. They never get sick of feeling wanted and loved.
Kids want to feel loved even if they have failed an exam. They want to feel loved and wanted even after they have made a mistake or done something to anger their parents. Parents can be upset. Parents can admonish and punish their children. However, the care, concern, attention and encouragement should never come with a condition. It should always be given freely and unconditionally.
"We work so hard so that we can afford to
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.