I have a little niece, a sweet girl who like all girls growing up go through phases of attention. I’m talking about the attention phase when another baby girl is added to the family and they feel like they no longer get attention. Of course a baby will get a different kind of attention from a more grown child, babies require a lot of time, diaper changing, feeding, etc. Although we tried to talk to my little niece that this was normal and that our love for her was ever so strong she still doesn’t seem to get it. Understandable. I do my best to interact with my nieces and nephews as if they were adults rather than little children, and it surprisingly works wonders especially when you need them to be responsible.

Kids have a way with surprising one, they are very intuitive, very curious, and very opinionated. Sometimes their thoughts are even more organized than a grown adult. Their way of observing the world is different from the way we see the world but sometimes their perspective can be just the thing one was looking for and couldn’t see.

What I do with my nieces and nephews is a hold a little meeting every now and then, we call it our feedback session. I talk to them as if they were my friends, I tell them what I like that they’ve learned and been doing. I tell them what I think they should also work on like being better team members with their siblings, studying more etc. In return they tell me how I’m doing as an aunt, and what they hope I do better. These sessions have proven to be great and helped us create a better bond. Because of that they are able to come to me not just as their aunt, but as a friend, they are comfortable to talk about their problems in school, their feelings, their aspirations in life without having anyone point fingers, or laugh at their words.

Kids just want to express themselves, they want to be treated like equals. I admit that even I set the limit on how I treat them as adults I mean come on I’m not going to tell them to go work on the garden and such. But I do my best to instil upon them the importance of being responsible and being a good team member. What I have learned from them is that they want to be respected too, and what I have seen is that its something that is often overlooked. As older family members and parents we think that respect is a one way street, respect your elders and follow our orders etc etc. True, I don’t argue with that. Kids should follow orders and be respectful to us older folks but respect is a two way street. If I expect them to listen to my directions, I too should listen to how they feel about certain things, without shush-ing them like I’ve seen many parents do.

So if you have a kid, or you’re around little kids try having some feedback for a change. Listen to them, encourage them to be expressive, to aim high. Don’t put kids down because they are younger or because you think they know nothing of life. How will they not learn if you don’t teach them or guide them? Don’t just be a family member, be their friend. It does make a world of difference.

Smile, don’t forget that respect is a two way street.