Being a parent is hard. You’ve got these tiny humans that you’re trying to mold into decent human beings. They’re always around and learning your behavior, especially when you get hurt or upset and let a particular word slip out that you don’t want them to repeat. If you’re lucky, your children can overlook moments like that and notice these other things that you say and do instead.
Several people, especially children, view reading as a punishment. Toys and electronics provide an immediate reward, or only require a short amount of time to be spent observing a story develop, have a problem arise and be solved, and watch everyone live happily ever after. Reading is also such a highly used task that it can be hard to be viewed as something pleasurable. After reading for school and then as a part of homework all day long, it is understandable why picking up a book can seem like even more work. It needs to be understood that at least at home, you can read whatever you want and not just what someone assigns you to read because the school curriculum deems it necessary.
A well-written story that is read by choice can spark an imagination and take someone’s mind off of reality and the stresses therein. It’s a healthy vice for anyone to pursue, especially young and impressionable children. It’s something they can do at all ages. If they can’t read yet, their creativity can still get flowing by trying to create their own story line based on the book’s illustrations. Regardless of the child’s age and ability to read, it’s an activity that gets minds going, bodies relaxed, and something children and parents can do either independently or together. If Mommy or Daddy reads (better yet if they both do it), it can’t be all that bad, right? It’s even better when a book gets read together. What could be better than a good cuddle and a great story?
When reading becomes a positive experience, it can always be suggested to them when they’re just so bored or when they’re driving their parents crazy and Mom or Dad just needs a short break. If a parent needs to accomplish something quickly without a small child in tow, an older sibling can be asked to read to the younger child or children in order to help out. A good book can be rewarding on so many different levels for everybody.
2) Admit to being wrong
Nobody likes to be wrong. It can be embarrassing and can bruise the ego. It would be terrible for children to see their parents do or say something wrong and think their parents were right or that what they did wrong was actually okay. There is enough fake news circulating in the world as it is right now and it would be ideal to be able to remain a trusted source of information to children. However, everybody makes mistakes and it is inevitable that children will see these things happen, if they haven’t already, and that they will continue to bear witness to these errors. Their parents may be the ones frequently harping them, but parents are human too and don’t always get things right either.
It is okay to mess up and it is not the end of the world. No one needs to throw a temper tantrum or try to manipulate the situation so the fault can be blamed on someone or something else. What needs to happen is that the person that is wrong should admit they are wrong and do what needs to be done to correct the error, even and especially if it means making an apology to someone. Then everyone can get past it and move on, until the next mistake.
3) Say no
Of course, children hear their parents say no. That word definitely earns some frequent flyer miles. No, you can’t brush your teeth with peanut butter. No, you can’t eat candy for breakfast. The list goes on and on for reasons why the word must be said. However, children, and even adults, should know that they don’t have to be people pleasers and always say yes to people. They need to realize that, yes, they are the most important person in their life and that there will be times that they don’t want to or they just can’t say yes and that they need and have to say no. Parents don’t want to raise door mats, but they don’t want to raise disrespectful brats either. Learning to say no will also allow for lessons on compromise to occur on occasion, and that is a lesson that will go a long way.
In addition to learning to stand up for themselves, it is vital for children to hear the dreaded word no. “No” establishes rules and boundaries that will help mold the child into a decent human being. Guidelines, structure, and discipline are far more beneficial than letting a child get away with murder because a parent would rather ignore a child or have the child view the parent more as a friend that lets them have fun and do as they please.
4) Say yes
All work and no play makes for some crabby children, which can make for some crabby parents. As detrimental as it is to say no, it is just as important for kids to hear the word yes. Routines can be shaken up from time to time for the sake of thinking outside the box and in order to promote acceptance of spontaneity. Children need to be able to let their hair down. Kids need to be kids, and kids learn best through play and fun. The look of sheer joy on a child’s face when they hear the word yes when they expect to hear no can be even more rewarding to the parent than it is to the child that is surprisingly getting their way. When they look back on their childhood someday, having heard yes from time to time will keep them from thinking their parents were complete drill sergeants. Do it, but don’t overdo it. It will be worth it.
5) Eat healthy
If parents don’t eat the healthy foods that they are trying to get their kids to eat, how can they expect them to want to eat them at all? There is a lot of “monkey see, monkey do” * involved with children and if parents want their monkeys to eat their cauliflower, then the bigger monkeys have got to eat it too.
*This can be applied towards many other things besides eating. It can be used towards practically anything. Copying is the best form of flattery and children are quick to copy and please. If there are any behaviors parents want to see their kids exhibit, they better be willing to do them too. Eventually, these impressionable children become teenagers that understand the meaning of the word hypocrisy.
6) Be loving
Your marriage (or relationship) is teaching your children what relationships ought to be like. As much as they don’t want to see their parents express their affection for each other, they need to see it. They need to know what a healthy relationship looks like so they are able to establish an ideal relationship for themselves later in life and identify if they are not in a relationship good for them.
Children also need to be on the receiving end of affection from their parents. The human touch does not stop being vital just because your children are no longer babies. A hug or literal pat on the back can go a long way. Even if the child is a moody teenager, they could use the love too. If they dodge it, respect their boundaries, but don’t let it deter you entirely. They may be the least inclined to receive it, but at some point, whether it be today or five years from now, they will appreciate that you took the time to show them you care.
Also, it pays to let children observe their parents display love towards their own parents and for pets. Animals should be treated kindly and appropriately. Parents must also remember their children will be picking out their parents’ nursing home someday. They ought to put their own parents in a good home if they hope their children will do them the same favor.
7) Keep trying
Everyone has something, or several things, that they are not good at. That doesn’t make it okay to stop trying though. Practice makes perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. These clichés are enough to provoke a good eye roll, but they actually do ring true. Quitting gets a person nowhere. Taking a break from something that is a struggle is okay, and sometimes even necessary, but quitting shouldn’t be the first response when things get tough. How many people with notable accomplishments wanted to give up when they couldn’t master things right off the bat? If everyone quit everything so easily, imagine how different life would be today. Persistence pays off both short term and in the long run.
8) Be comfortable as is
Almost everyone has wanted to be more like a sibling, friend, or celebrity or to change some things about themselves. As easy as it is to feel that way, people need to stop doing that. People need to accept themselves the way they are and be comfortable with their identity. Still, there is no shame in wanting to make subtle changes, or even big changes, especially for health reasons. That doesn’t mean that a person can’t be happy with who they are along the way or if they don’t accomplish the goal they were hoping to reach. People need to stop letting society dictate what beauty and popularity are. These perceptions cause more harm than good both physically and mentally to all genders. The human body should be admired and appreciated for all of the amazing things it has done and will do in the future, even if they don’t look just like So and So does. Everyone is beautiful, and inner beauty should be strived for more than physical beauty anyway.
9) Try something new
Whether it be a new food, a tv show, or a new hobby, it’s always good to shake things up a bit. It gives people a chance to do something different and can serve for a great topic of discussion at the dinner table.
If this new thing is something that isn’t the most pleasurable or makes a person step outside of their comfort zone, that creates an opportunity to turn it into a learning experience. Life is full of people having to do things that they don’t want to do, but will have to do anyway. New chores need to be done. Speeches must be given. A move has to be made. Life happens, like it or not. People have to adapt to changes, both good and bad. The more experiences a person has, the easier it can be to accept and deal with changes both big and small in the future.
10) Believe in them
Children are often unsure of themselves, especially when they are trying new things or doing something in front of a crowd. They may be inclined to give up instead of do what they originally intended to do. Parents must be their child’s biggest cheerleader. If even we cannot be their biggest fan and believe in them, how can they even manage to believe in themselves? Go to all of the events you can. Offer words of encouragement beforehand. Praise them afterwards. Do everything in your power to support them now because it will still impact them later.
11) Be a good person
This statement covers so much territory. Instilling ethics into a child can be done so many ways. Hold a door open for someone. Help someone carry something. Walk someone to their car or across a street. Stand up for someone not being treated fairly. Recycle. Do a favor for someone without wanting or expecting anything in return. Volunteer. Find a local charity that will gladly accept a family’s unwanted items or outgrown clothes. Treat everyone with respect. Accept the differences in people, and so on.
If kindness is always exhibited to everyone, it will become second nature to children. If a child grows up to be happy, healthy, and a good person, what more could a parent possibly want?
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