National Children's Day

In Methodist Episcopal congregations throughout the country, today (the second Sunday in June) is National Children’s Day. It’s a day to honor, celebrate, and advocate for the children in your life and around the globe. There is much you can do to recognize the day:

  • put down your phone and play with your child
  • cook with your child
  • read with your child 
  • visit a museum or historic landmark with your child
  • donate to a children’s charity (March of Dimes, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Shriners Hospitals, Saint Jude’s, the Children’s Defense Fund, and money others)
  • volunteer for an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Special Olympics, or Boys & Girls Club of America
The possibilities are endless. 

Honoring children, however, is not something that should happen just one day a year. Truly honoring children is more about how you treat the children in your life every day. Here are some ways you can show them how valued they are:

Really get to know them.
Study your child. Observe their feelings and opinions in different situations so you can learn how they tick. Watch them to see how they show love to others. The way they show love is most likely how they want others to show love to them.  

Be their biggest fan. 
Let your children know how much you love them by telling them and showing them. Spend time doing things they love with them. If they love something you don’t know much about, learn about it. Encourage them to keep trying even when they fail. It can be helpful to share your own experiences with failure with them. Let them know that the thing that matters most is getting up after they’ve fallen.  

Acknowledge their feelings.
Let your children know that it’s okay to feel a wide array of emotions—anger, joy, sorrow, frustration, fear, and so on. Help them learn to express those emotions by showing them how you handle emotions. Say things like, “It’s okay to be sad (or frustrated or angry) right now. Why don’t you tell me what you’re thinking about that is making you sad (or frustrated or angry)?” Remember their feelings and handle them with care; don’t belittle them or compare them to their siblings or friends (or your younger self).

Give them your complete attention.
When you talk to your children (or they come to you to talk), put down what you’re doing and look them in the eyes. If your child is very young, try getting down on their level (by stooping or sitting) so you can talk face to face. Try to set aside time each day where your children are your focus: around the dinner table, while driving from activity to activity, and so on. Use these times to strike up a meaningful conversation with your children. Ask open-ended rather than yes-or-no questions. Invite your children to work side-by-side with you on projects, cooking meals, gardening, and so on.

No one is perfect. Every parent loses their temper or gets angry at times. When that happens, apologize to your children. If you are wrong about something, admit it. Not only does this show your children respect and demonstrate understanding, it also models appropriate behavior and thus makes your children more likely to become forgiving and understanding individuals themselves.

Be consistent.
If you tell your children there will be consequences for certain behavior, follow through with those consequences when the behavior warrants it. Set rules and consistent routines for your children. If you promise to do something, do it. This builds trust and lets them know that you are aware of their actions.

Say yes.
Be a force for the positive in your children’s lives. Try to say yes to their reasonable requests as often as you can. If, for example, your four-year-old asks if he can help you cook dinner, say yes and then find something he can do to contribute even though this will likely take longer and be messy. If your child is begging to go outside but you’re in the middle of a chore, say something like, “Yes, but only after we finish the dishes. Will you help me with that?” Remember what Marjorie Pay Hinckley once advised: “Whenever possible, say yes.  They are only kids once.”

Make your home a haven.
Make your home a place your children will want to be, a place where they know they are safe and can express themselves freely. Fill it with music, celebrations, good books, and tastes and smells they will remember throughout their lives. There are many ways to set a mood in your home. Some of my favorite ways involve essential oils because of their power to support physical, spiritual, and mental health. 

To promote healthy sleep for children—Diffuse lavender, Roman chamomile, wild orange, clary sage, or cedarwood in your child’s room at bedtime. (This is best for children ages two and up. Essential oils can be dangerous for very young babies and should, therefore, be avoided.)

To boost their efforts to study at homework time—Diffuse an equal ratio wild orange and peppermint while your children study. 

To calm them when anxious—Add a few drops rose oil to a cotton ball and have your child inhale deeply while taking even, measured breaths. For older children, try this blend: 5 drops of blue tansy mixed with 5 drops frankincense and 10 drops fractionated coconut oil. Store in a roller bottle and apply to the bottoms of the feet.

To motivate during chore time—try diffusing any of these oils during chore time to energize the environment: wild orange, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, grapefruit, cedarwood, cinnamon, or rosemary. A blend of equal ratios peppermint, rosemary, lime, lemon, and grapefruit is particularly delightful.


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