One paradox of parenthood—and there seem to be more as time goes on and children grow up—is that while we are protecting and guiding our children through life, we are simultaneously preparing them to leave us, to live without need of us. When they are teenagers, there are practical things to teach them such as filling their own prescriptions and how to write out a check, but even when they are small we can teach them valuable lessons that they can use their whole lives. These lessons are not as concrete as later lessons, but are, nonetheless, necessary. The issues involved are huge—they are about how they see the world, and how they treat others, and how they expect to be treated. So many issues they will face in life will boil down to these issues, and it’s important that they have the strong foundation in them. We are Child’s World Academy, and we believe that every child deserves respect and that the best way to teach them how to treat people well, is by treating them well.
There are entire shelves at the bookstore filled with books about how to teach children respect, so we will pick just a few of our favorite tips to cover in this week’s blog. We are going to go through one of our favorite sets of sayings and talk about each one.
If children live with criticism, they will learn to condemn.
So many of us grew up with hypercritical parents that teaching our children not to be critical takes conscious effort. We want our child to have good critical-thinking skills, but to know when to apply them. Teach your child to point out the good things about any circumstance, instead of just the bad.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
Guilt is an important emotion that signals to us that we’ve done something wrong. The line between shame and guilt is a fine one. Guilt signals that what we did wrong but shame is a more negative feeling that reflects our self-worth negatively. You can feel guilty about something, but accept that everyone makes mistakes and commit to doing better, without feeling that your self-worth has been lessened.
If they live with tolerance, they learn patience.
This lessons can extend to just about every aspect of life. In our multicultural world, we need to peacefully coexist with others on a global, national and local level. Teaching our children the difference between different and “weird” is a great way to do this. Just because people do things differently than we do, doesn’t mean it’s wrong or weird, just different.
Teaching children patience on a personal level is also important, whether it’s waiting for them to dress themselves or pick up their toys. As long as they are complying, we need to be patient and show them what it looks like to be patient, for there are many times when we will be asking them to be patient when they are waiting for things in life. If you feel like you are losing your patience, count to a designated number (I use 17) and then repeat your request or sit back and look at your phone, or read a magazine while you wait. Obviously, there will be times when you are in a hurry, but you can model appropriate behavior in all situations. How else will they learn how to behave in those situations?
If they live with approval, they will learn to like themselves.
A good self-esteem is something we all want our children to have, and this is something we can help them with every day. Telling them when they do something well, or catching them being good are wonderful ways of letting them know they are seen, and valued.
One tip we have for this is to have this rule: no negative self-talk. When someone puts themselves down, you have to call them on it and reverse course. You’ll find your children reminding you of it before too long, and you can all be more positive about lives and your self-worth. Adjacent to this rule is not insulting others. When you hear someone insulting a sibling or friend, they have to give them three compliments to make up for it, after apologizing.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
This is one lesson that will pay off you and them their whole lives. Honesty is not always the easiest path to take with children, but it is one that pays off. It is genuinely hard to explain why a beloved pet died, or why mommy and daddy are getting a divorce, but the truth or at least an age appropriate version of it is the best possibility. Obviously, you can sugar coat things for small children but as kids get older making the family policy one of honesty, or better yet full non-deception, and you might find yourself with teenagers who tell you when a friend offered them alcohol or when they want to engage is mature activities. A healthy, honest dialogue with teenagers begins the moment they begin to have conversations and to understand the world.
We hope you have enjoyed our tips on raising children, so they feel good about themselves and the world. These are things that we all need to remember because raising children is hard work and it’s easy to slip into scolding or being impatient because we get sucked into our grown-up world of pressures. It’s a good thing to remember the great work we are involved in raising our children. If you are looking for quality day care in either Peekskill or Monroe, call us today and schedule a tour!