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How to Really Love Your Child
(from the book, by Dr. Ross Campbell)

Almost every study I know indicates that any child is continually asking his parents, "Do you love me?" ... If we love a child unconditionally, he feels the answer to the question is yes. If we love him conditionally, he is unsure, and , again, prone to anxiety. The answer we give a child to this all-important question, "Do you love me?" pretty well determines his basic attitude toward life. Itís crucial. A child usually asks us this question with his behavior, and so we give him our answer by our behavior.
Not only by what we say, but by what we do. By this behavior, a child tells us what he needs, whether itís more love, more discipline, more acceptance, or more understanding...By our behavior, we meet these needs but we can do this only if our relationship is founded on unconditional love ...

Another critical concept for parents to understand is that each child has an emotional tank... Each child has certain emotional needs, and whether these emotional needs are met (through love, understanding, discipline, etc) determines many things. First of all, how a child feels: whether he is content, angry, depressed, or joyful. Secondly, it affects his behavior: whether he is obedient, disobedient, whiny, perky, playful, or withdrawn. Naturally, the fuller the tank, the more positive the feelings and the better the behavior...Only if the emotional tank is full, can a child be expected to be at his best or to do his best...

Conveying love to a child can be broadly classified into four areas: eye contact, physical contact, focused attention, and discipline... The area most overemphasized today, to the exclusion of the rest, is discipline... In many..cases..parents have unfortunately confused discipline with punishment, as though the two are synonymous...

Eye contact is looking directly into the eyes of another person... We tend to like people who are able to maintain pleasant eye contact with us...

It seems that the most obvious way of conveying our love to a child is by physical contact... I donít mean just hugging, kissing, and the like. Iím also talking about any type of physical contact. It is such a simple thing to touch a child on his shoulder, gently poke him in the ribs, or tousle his hair... An infant needs to be held, cuddled, hugged, and kissed...

Focused attention is giving a child our full, undivided attention in such a way that he feels without doubt that he is completely loved... I have found that the best way to give a child focused attention is to set aside time to spend with him alone...

Discipline is training a child in mind and character to enable him to become a self-controlled, constructive member of society... Guidance by example, modeling, verbal instruction, written instruction, verbal requests, written requests, teaching, providing learning and fun experiences... Yes, punishment is on this list, but it is only one of many ways of discipline and is the most negative and primitive factor... Discipline is immeasurably easier when the child feels genuinely loved.

(copyright 1999 Cook Communications Ministries. How to Really Love Your Child, by Ross Campbell. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.)

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