How do you raise kids that have good character, think about others, are not so selfish and are a joy to be around?
Here are some thoughts to consider in raising great kids:
1. Spend quality time with your child. This means listening to them when they are angry or hurt. Give them a chance to communicate their feelings to you. In return, try to listen to them and verbalize back what you heard them say to you.
2. Discipline your children when you are not angry or emotional. When my sons were little, they would frequently require physical discipline. I did not want to spank them when I was really mad. I would say something like, “You earned 2 spankings. At 6:00 tonight, I will take you in the bathroom and you will receive your punishment.” By 6:00 that evening, I cooled down. I pulled them into the bathroom (to preserve their dignity and not allow the other kids to gawk) and said, “Do you know why you are going to get spanked?” They would tell me why they were going to get punished. I found out that waiting, for them, was worse punishment then the actual spanking.
3. Don’t give your kids too much too soon. In today’s society, you see 5 year olds walking around with smart phones!? Ponder this, if you give a child a lot of technology (smart phones, iPhones, iPads, DSi’s, excess computer or T.V time) it will rob them of creativity, social interactive skills, conflict resolution skills and they will eventually get bored with that technology. What’s next? They’ve been there done that. So, they may have the propensity to try something else in their teen years: drugs, alcohol, sex or other harmful choices.
4. The same-sex parent has a powerful influence over the child, especially during the teen years. When I say profound, I mean profound. Your actions speak louder than your words. If you say you love your son, then do something that would negate that comment, your actions trump your words. I can’t be a good dad to my boys, because I am a mom. I can only be a good mom. My heart goes out to all the single moms, especially of boys. When the boys become teenagers, they look for a male influence in their lives.
Bruce W. Gladstone, PH.D writes, “One evening I watched a remarkable program on the Discovery channel about the mysterious killings of numerous rhinoceros somewhere in Africa. Many rhinos had been found dead after being badly beaten and gorged. It was clearly not the work of poachers who used guns and who took the rhinos’ horns. These rhinos had been brutally beaten and mauled. Who could have done such a thing and why? Animal experts investigating these unusual rhino killings soon learned that the killers were adolescent male elephants roaming in small bands. They filmed these bands of teenage elephants chasing the rhinos, teasing them, throwing rocks and dust at them, pushing them down and preparing to gorge them with their tusks. While the mystery of the rhino deaths was solved, the question still remained as to why the adolescent male elephants would behave in such an aggressive manner, so belligerent and out of control. As the investigators continued to observe the teenage elephants they noticed that there were no mature male elephants around. They had all been poached for their tusks. The absence of mature adult males elephants was striking but could it account for the murderous rampage of the teenage males? To find the answer to this question the investigators arranged for several bull elephants to be imported to the area. Within a short period after the mature male elephants arrived, the killing and harassment of the rhinos by the bands of adolescent males stopped completely. The simple presence of the mature males was enough to accomplish this result. When the male teenagers stepped out of line and threatened the rhinos or overstepped their boundaries, a gesture and a bellow from the adult males brought them back in line. The young males even seemed to welcome the stability and authority of the older bulls………..The focus of parenting (fathering) them is more on control, management and discipline and less on knowing them, connecting with their souls, uplifting and developing their unique gifts and creative genius. There isn’t time for all that!!! Too often the essence of who a boy is gets lost in the shuffle of working schedules, business and other priorities, until it is too late. Adolescent boys feel lonely, sad and abandoned in our society and they cannot admit to it. It’s not their job to admit to it. That is our job, the job of their fathers and mothers and it is time we all wake up to that and begin thinking of making some serious changes in how we raise boys to be men. Like the rampaging adolescent elephants in Africa, our boys need strong, loving and mature male influence. They need their fathers and they need the entire village. They need to know who is in charge. They need to know what the rules are and they need firm, loving attention. Many boys get this, but far too many do not.
5. Have credible alternatives. If your teen needs to talk with someone about a delicate situation, but does not want to talk to mom or dad, encourage your teen to have a “Credible alternative” source, meaning someone who will be speaking into them the same values and core beliefs that you would. A good support system is important.
6. Ask thought-provoking questions to your child. This could be as easy as, “So….what’s your favorite type of ice cream?” or deeper questions such as, “Would you rather have all presents and no parents for Christmas OR just parents and no presents for Christmas.” Their answer may surprise you. Ask them why and listen to them articulate what is truly important to them. My kids love when I ask them questions. They say, ”Mom, can you ask me three questions before I go to bed.”
7. Set limits! (Self-Control). It is very hard to set limits for a child when the parent has difficulty setting limits for him or herself. Teaching your child begins with setting an example and setting personal boundaries for yourself. I know that I am not the typical, run of the mill parent. I am strict with the kids. I’m strict on myself. I have expectations, goals, dreams and plans. I can’t expect my kids to have strict boundaries if I do not have them myself. This is tough, but it is do-able.
8. Speak positive words, avoid the negative. Instead of saying, “That was a bad thing you did” you could say, “That was not a nice thing you did.” Always stay focused on the positive.
9. Pray for your kids. Often times, we use prayer as a last resort, but it should be used first. My husband and I wear identical silver rings to remind us to pray for our children daily. Every time we see or feel the ring on our finger, we pray for our kids, their choices and their future spouses.
I am so proud of my kids! I tell them “No” a whole lot……but I love them a whole lot too.
What have you done or what are you doing to help raise great kids?