I recently was talking to a couple who shared that they knew they were giving their children all the affection they needed because they were giving them all the toys they asked for.
I told them they were confused. They were buying temporary happiness for their children and temporary peace for themselves. The result will be spoiled children. They were raising them to be demanding, self centered and focused on material possessions. The result will also produce headaches when they are teenagers and heartbreak when they are adults.
I define affection in my book, “Cornerstones and Core Needs of Growing Kids”, as “Anything I do to make a child feel appreciated and cared for or valued for who they are.” and then explained that what they have been giving them is things – not valuing them for who they are.
The LIFOC paradigm of parenting starts with the Four Core Needs. We do this because as we reward them for responsible behavior (affection), place known boundaries to manage their choices (boundaries), use discipline to reinforce those known boundaries (discipline) and become consistent in all four areas (consistency) then we can use that foundation of trust to direct them toward more responsible behavior (the Three Cornerstones).
Raising a child this way is not easy.
We need to start with their needs and then look at what we are doing to meet those needs and what causes us to make those choices.
Just like I suggested to the couple who were over generous with their stuff; we need to do the hard work of challenging our choices, finding out who’s needs are really being met, then remake our parenting model.
That is the hard part.