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The Informed Parent

Creating Magic

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on Dec. 05, 2005

Many children find the holiday season magical. Cheerful decorations adorn homes. Special meals are served. A feeling of hope and anticipation fills the air. Creating magic does not take lots of effort and need not be only part of festive events. Children see their parents as conjurers with powers to surprise and delight, regardless of the time of year.

You might wonder what kinds of magic you are possibly capable of. I have a friend who regularly takes her three-year-old to visit a grandma-aged woman. After a recent visit, the little boy said, "Mommy, she is a magical, magical lady!" This woman decorates cookies with my friend's son. She has crayons and clay available. She listens with interest to his three-year-old conversation. Who she is, not what she does, creates the feeling of magic. Everyday events with children done with enthusiasm, joy, and an attitude of "this is a special time" feel magical.

While there are myriad ways to create magic in the home, beginning with the following four will start you on the way to feeling like the conjurer you are.

The Power of Persuasion

Persuasion can be an act of urging and attempting to prevail over another, or it can be subtler. It can be inducing someone to believe--even believe in the impossible. It is this subtle act of persuasion that is perceived as magic.

Have you ever helped your child with a difficult project or a seemingly impossible homework assignment and had it turn out successfully? Most parents have. At the completion of such a task, perhaps your child has looked at you with surprise or even said, "How did you do that?" The wise parent says, "You are the one who did it. I only helped you see what you are capable of." To the child, it seemed like magic. A job that looked hopeless not only was accomplished but also done well. Because the parent was there, the child believed that the parent's special powers did the job.

Parents who support do not take on the work expected of the child. They induce the child to believe in her own capabilities and provide the assistance necessary. They become the child's cheering team. To children, achieving the seemingly impossible feels magical.

The Power Of Perception

Perception can mean the ability to see what is not obviously apparent. Perceptive parents see strengths, abilities, and talents in their children. They bring out the best in them. They are the pep squad that never gives up. When children accomplish a task or overcome an emotional roadblock they didn't think could be completed, their joy is full. Recall your child's smiling face as she looked up at you and said, "I didn't know I could do that!" The perceptive parent responds, "I knew all along that you could." Your belief in a child's abilities creates the magic that leads to success.

The Power Of Personal Esteem

Parents who feel good about themselves and confident in their role as parent exude magic. They have the energy to perform with enthusiasm and take joy from interacting with their children. As a result, the offspring feel loved, appreciated, and capable. They draw on their parents' confidence and ease. When parents feel comfortable, children feel safe and secure. They know there is a safety net to catch them, and so are willing to venture into unknown territory.

It may take time to increase your personal esteem. Introspection may be needed to determine what lies beneath feelings of unworthiness. Lack of skill erodes esteem. Unskilled parents do not feel confident. Talking to the pediatrician about concerns could provide help. Attending parent groups offers information and support. It helps to know there are others with similar feelings. Parents share strategies that work for them.

Libraries and bookstores carry an abundance of self-help and parenting books. Some are excellent; others leave a lot to be desired. Get a recommendation from someone you trust. Study the book reviews in The Informed Parent. Look through several books and choose one that fits your style. You are more likely to practice the suggestions if you connect with the author's presentation. Counseling can be useful in developing self-care skills and in giving you tools that lead to greater esteem.

The Power Of Pricking Up Your Ears

The ability to prick up your ears and hear the couched messages children give is one of the strongest tools parents can develop. Children give many messages a day about what they like, want, and anticipate. By listening carefully you can be as magical as Santa Claus.

Listen to the hints children give about what they like to eat. "Mary had peanut butter and banana sandwiches in her lunch. I love peanut butter and bananas." You may have never served this combination in a sandwich. It doesn't matter. If, in a week or two, you do, the wide-eyed response will probably be, "How did you know I love this kind of sandwich?"

Children will let you know the wants that they have in their daily conversation. There are the little things like wanting the latest hot toy or game. There are bigger things, too. These are what to pay attention to: I wish we could go on a hike sometime; I wish Dad would play ball with me; I wish you would come and visit my class. Often these desires aren't directly stated. They come out in conversations. Parents may miss the importance. When a child's desire is fulfilled, especially spontaneously, it feels magical. Again, the child may wonder how you knew.

The necessities and work of everyday can feel overwhelming. It may seem like there isn't much time for fun and magic. Remember, magic is more an attitude and the development of skill. It requires little extra time. When you practice the power of persuasion, the power of perception, the power of personal esteem and the power of pricking up your ears, not only will your children see you as conjurers of magic, you may begin to believe it yourself.

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