One of the most flawed and potentially damaging traps many parents in the twenty-first century find themselves buying into is the idea that simply loving a child is enough.
Unfortunately, loving a child by lavishing them with everything they desire, overpraising them for little effort or achievement and protecting them from the consequences of their actions can backfire. This is a recipe for raising selfish, lazy adults who take no responsibility for their actions and believe the world owes them.
The media can portray a false reality – that everybody else’s family is on autopilot, sailing happily through life. The fact is, good parenting is 24/7 work, hard but rewarding – where you get out what you put in.
If you are seeking strategies to build your family into a cohesive unit where every member, including the children, are resilient, responsible, and respectful, read on.
The gift of time
Young children seek out their parents’ company and would prefer quality time with them over staring at a TV or iPad. Encourage this by taking them out on strolls and discussing nature and their surroundings.
If you have a couple of small children, invest in a travel system that is light and adaptable. Flexible, modern twin prams can adapt and grow with your family, allowing them to be compatible with a range of lifestyle requirements such as carrycots and car capsules, enabling you to take your children on wonderful discovery adventures with ease conveniently.
Children need to live within the safe confines of rules. Understanding their boundaries gives a child the solid footing to explore and experiment their world.
Respect for your expectations and guidelines surrounding behavior and consideration for yourself and other people and their belongings need to be gently encouraged from infancy.
Explain why you have rules and use simple language which they can understand.
Magic of reading
Reading books to kids from an early age not only imparts knowledge but it is a powerful bonding tool that they will remember for the rest of their lives, says Reach Out and Read.
Rituals and traditions
The strongest cultures are forged through shared history, stories and rituals – so too are families.
Shared rituals are the glue cementing and strengthening family bonds, building memories, and creating a place where children know they belong. These regular special occasions need not be lavish events but merely regularly sharing fun experiences with family.
An example of family rituals are:
- Having a set meal for a particular night of the week, like Sunday roast
- Driving to the beach every Saturday
- Game nights once a week
Traditions may be larger events such as holidaying together at the same beach house in summer, celebrating birthdays in your private way, or holding a special Easter Egg hunt every year.
Be the mirror
Children are mimics and will reflect the world around them, including the attitudes and values as they are presented to them. To grow fine adults, we must be so ourselves and live life within the code of ethics we expect our children to follow.
A fine example is showing empathy to others less fortunate and encouraging this in our children.
Presenting a united front to children is vital. If one parent is considered weaker or ‘a soft touch’ it can cleave a wedge between the parents and undermine their authority. This can result in disharmony and conflict. Whatever your differences in parenting, discuss them in private and not in front of the kids.
Don’t accept the unacceptable
Start with the small stuff and instill the basics such as table manners and please and thank you’s. Nipping early signs of disrespect in the bud can circumvent the big issues later on. Small slights to visitors, a lack of appreciation or gratitude or simply leaving dirty dishes or their room a mess are all disrespectful behaviors.
By encouraging children to acknowledge visitors and their elders and respecting other people’s property from an early age, the natural flow-on effect can have far-reaching positive echoes as they pass through the teenage years and into young adulthood.
Encourage a community spirit to participate in neighborhood projects and become involved in positive causes. Socialize them with the elderly from an early age and let them develop an appreciation of the value of diverse ideas and personalities.
Don’t forget to play
Some of a child’s most precious memories will involve playing games with their parents. Whether it’s a game of catch in the backyard, a board game, or cards, these can be the warmest family occasions.
Resilience for life
One of the casualties of ‘helicopter parenting’ has been children’s loss of resilience. Having never learned to cope with failure by themselves, they struggle to recover from even small obstacles and drawbacks.
Watching children fail is hard. It is a source of great temptation to try to shield them from it or overcompensate by praising them, thinking it will make them feel better. We all must experience failure to learn how to succeed and how to appreciate our success. It builds confidence in our merit.
By investing time and effort into making our children functioning and valuable members of society, we make our lives better and those of our children, our extended community, and the world. It is well worth the effort!