Parenting is full of all kinds of stressors.
Will my child succeed in school?
Will he make lots of friends?
Will she marry someone who is kind to her?
But I think the ultimate concern (other than health and safety) of any parent is this:
Will my child grow up to be a good person?
As a parent, you never want your child to be the one who ends up cheating, doing drugs, or just being a bully. You want your child to be kind, honest, and an example to others.
You want your child to be good.
But as a toddler or preschooler, it’s kind of weird to say, “now when you grow up, make sure to do your own homework, and not copy your friend.” That just doesn’t apply.
So what should you be teaching that will end up translating into good behavior down the road?
Say please and thank you.
This one is a given. My 16 month old already knows that she needs to say please if she wants something. It is a common courtesy that should be taught as early as can be. These are some of the first ways that you can start teaching respect, that will then translate into other respectful behaviors as your child gets older.
Clean up after him/herself.
You don’t want to raise a slob, and you don’t want to be stuck doing every. little. thing. for your child for the 18 (hopefully that’s it) years that she’s living with you.
Now there are basic ways to teach this:
- Put dishes in the sink after eating
- Throw away trash after using something
- Put dirty laundry in a basket
- Clean up toys before bed
Those are some of the things that my 3 year old does (with the occasional reminder), and I hope it stays that way!
Telling the truth
Start this at a young age as well, and start by praising the truth.
I remember being in 8th grade and going over the answers for a test in algebra. I noticed that my teacher marked a question right when it was really wrong. I raised my hand and told him that, and he said, “thanks for telling me. After class bring it to me and I’ll change your grade.”
I felt so gypped!
I have always been taught to be honest, but that made me wish that I had just kept my mouth closed.
The moral of my story is that you should reward your children for telling the truth, so that they will continue to do. Will that always happen throughout life? Obviously not. But for a child learning these principles, it is important to help them not to be afraid of telling the truth.
If your child comes to you admitting that he broke a vase, don’t start screaming at him. Because then he will never want to tell you the truth. Instead, have him help you clean it up, and tell him that he will have to do chores to help pay for a new one.
This will work better on older children, of course, but it is still an important lesson to teach.
My son actually just drew all over our walls with a marker. Was I happy? Heck no.
But I told him that it was a bad choice and then I had him help me clean it up! That is just a simple way to teach this for a younger child.
All choices have consequences, but your child needs to know that your love won’t be taken away just because they told the truth.
Apologizing and then fixing it
My family is a HUGE fan of Daniel Tiger. We are always singing the jingles to help our kids. One of them is, “Saying I’m sorry is the first step, then how can I help?”
This is something that all kids need to learn. Saying an empty “I’m sorry” doesn’t always solve a problem. Instead, you need to teach your children to take the steps necessary to right the wrong that took place.
Be a problem solver
The title “problem solver” is the highest compliment that my husband and I can give to our children. We make sure to sound very excited and proud when we say it too.
When my 3 year old needs help with his train tracks or putting a puzzle together, we always ask, “can you be a problem solver?”
Sometimes just that little bit of encouragement is all he needs to figure it out! And if he keeps trying and then needs help again, we reassess the situation to see if we should step in or if he can still do it on his own.
How to entertain themselves
In our crazy technological world, kids seem to be on screens more than they are on bikes or drawing pictures. I grew up being outside and playing pretend, and life is just so different now than it was 20-30 years ago.
A TV or tablet numbs a child’s mind and makes it so that they have to put forth little to no effort for entertainment. I even see my teenage siblings now struggle with how to entertain themselves since we all want things NOW.
Playing pretend and using your imagination is actually a vital skill for your child’s brain development. It helps to learn social and cognitive skills, that will benefit your child long down the road.
So encourage your child to go outside, play with dolls, build a train track, color a picture, ANYTHING that makes it so that they have to USE THEIR BRAINS.
How to talk to other people
Oh my gosh, how many people are there that are awful at interacting with others? Even making a basic phone call has turned into an impossible task for many.
I feel like this comes back to technology where shooting a text or snap chatting (snapping?) someone is easier than an in-person conversation.
Since my son has autism, I am actively trying to teach him basic social skills, but the same should go for all children!
If they are asked a question, a child should know how to respond in a polite way. Even if it is just to say, “I’m sorry, but I’d rather not talk about that.”
While all of these tips are easier said than done, I think it comes down to teaching respect.
Respect for others.
Respect for adults.
And respect for property.
If the basics of respect are taught, along with these 7 things that all children should know, your child should grow up to be a person that you can be proud of!
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