Of all the gifts, consistency is the most difficult because life is not consistent. What you can give your child is a consistent routine and response.
Routine is knowing when and what is going to happen during a day. Discussing in the morning what the day will look like will give your child a solid base to stand on. When there is no base, a child is often fearful and unconnected to the family. With structure, when life does throw us a curve, just a small portion of that day is disrupted. With structure, even in chaos, there is hope to return to normalcy.
Consistency in your response is the most important. Your child needs to know how you will react to a given situation. If you are not consistent, your child will test the limits because he will gamble which response he will receive. If your child knows for certain how you will respond, he will choose accordingly.
Children need to laugh. Make it a mission to make your child laugh at least once a day. Make that laugh not a simple tee-hee but a tears-producing belly-aching laugh. Our children need to learn how to make others smile and how to laugh with others.
You've got to love your child, even when he is not being very nice, thoughtful, wise or loving. You are the port in the storm for your child. After a day at school that hasn't been the best, your child needs to know there is someone who loves him/her regardless.
And it is in that love that all the other gifts can be found. Ten gifts that make a difference — and the cost?
Kathleen Schwartz is a retired teacher with more than 20 years of classroom experience. She currently consults as a Parent Education Specialist for Adams Central Community Schools in Monroe, Ind.