I am on the other side of raising my kids. Well, mostly. Does it ever really end? The teenage years were tough, but not as tough as they could have been because of the things their father and I taught them when they were young.
Here are six things to teach your children to ensure they become successful adults:
How to really talk and listen. We adults tend to discount what children say and we shouldn’t. Let her talk and feel heard, and when she is a teenager, and really needs to talk, she will come to you. Talk to her in a way that encourages her to listen to you and understand where you are coming from. If she understands you and trusts you, she is way more likely to respect you when she is older.
That you have set fair boundaries and will stick to them. This is very important. If your child learns early what his boundaries are, and that you will enforce them, he is less likely to push back when he is a teenager. The habit of listening to you will be as much second nature as brushing his teeth.
Good habits. Again, instilling habits is about creating habits that are second nature. Make sure she eats breakfast, that she has some time outside every day, that she treats the dog with love and respect. When she becomes a self-centered teenager, the habits she learned in her childhood will stay with her.
Good behavior. We parents need to model good behavior. If you are impatient with your child or yell at your partner, he will see your behavior and mimic it. The same with how you talk to people in the store, or on the phone, or at Christmas. If he sees you being polite, respectful, and friendly, he will be more likely to act them same way.
The value of free time. Everyone needs to learn what it is like to have some down time. Make sure she has time every day for herself and she isn’t caught up in the maelstrom of modern life—excelling at sports, academics, and social service. Yes, make that a part of her life, but also let her be a kid. She will be an adult soon enough and will have a lifetime of maelstrom.
The importance of reaching for dreams. Your child has dreams and those dreams need to be encouraged and supported by you, even if those dreams seem out of reach or ridiculous to you. So instead of trying to “set him straight” about how life works, encourage his pie-in-the-sky dreaming. And let him fail to reach those dreams, if that is part of the journey. If he only knows success, he will never learn how to fail in life and how to bounce back.
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