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Forefront families by Sally Burgess;Springtime Children; www.forefrontfamilies.org

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Brian and Sally Burgess

What a great spring we have been having as far as plant growth is concerned! I love this time of the year. New growth leaps from plants and seeds that had previously looked dead, and masses of flowers bloom as if to say, “See what I can do when I’m given the right conditions!”

It reminds me so much about our children when they are given the right environment in which to grow. I love seeing children smile and have a burst of pride when they get a compliment from their parent, teacher or someone who knows that affirmation is important to the development of a child.

I have spent the last seven years working part-time as a counselor in an elementary school. Welcoming them at the door or saying farewell at the end of a day results in a beaming smile. Praising them for work well done makes them want to work even harder. When they come to show me their art or a story they have written I make sure they know that I appreciate the effort they have put in to their‘ show and tell’. We give a sticker and a gift every day to a student who has been selected as the ‘Triple A’ (Academics / Attendance/ Attitude) winner of the day. The student’s name is read out over the PA system so that the whole school knows who won. I love to see their expressions when they receive their prize. Why is it that we see such amazing growth in these small children at that age? They are so grateful for everything and show it on their faces.

Then Spring moves into summer! It’s so hot outside now that when I mowed the lawns this morning I was soaked with sweat within an hour. That’s not a pleasant feeling and all I wanted to do was get into my air-conditioned house. This reminds me of what happens when kids go to Middle School. It’s just like moving from spring into summer. I spent five years as a classroom teacher with this age group, then six years as a school administrator. Just as the heat of summer sucks the life out of you, Middle School kids seem to have all the innocence and spontaneity that so characterizes elementary school children sucked out of them. There is a great pressure to be cool and not try too hard academically. Peer pressure becomes very strong and you start to wonder whether your child is the same one you raised in the earlier years! So it continues through the fall and winter of High School with its related issues.

So, what is my point? What I’ve written above are generalizations, but very true in so many ways. You can make the difference right in your home. As parents we need to be the ones who build up the positive image our children have about their abilities. It is us who need to affirm our children’s efforts. We are the ones who need to develop a very positive home environment and be our kids’ heroes.

If your children have been raised positively and have experienced great role-modeling, then the transition into ‘tween years’ and adolescence will be far smoother. Your life will be easier and generally you will find that your kids will want to tell you just about everything that they are doing and thinking. If you become their heroes they will want to have their friends come to your place and you won’t have to worry where you children are or what they are doing. You just may have to buy a larger fridge and your grocery bill will be a bit higher, but it’s worth it.

Peer pressure will still affect your child, but the best thing you can do is to start giving them responsibilities early and developing in them leadership skills. By doing this, your child is going to be the one influencing their peers for the good rather than them being followers.

Our children are a precious gift from God and He has given us the responsibility of shaping them and raising them to be God-loving, respectful, trustworthy, generous people who know their purpose in life and are working towards fulfilling this. They need to be our ‘spring children’, enjoying being loved, valued and appreciated.

If you have any comments on this subject please do not hesitate to contact us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org, and you can also check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com.            

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