5 most important things you can do for your kid
I am a strong believer that good parenting consists of love and patience. The best thing a kid can have is loving and patient parents.
Growing up is no easy job. Kids are overwhelmed by emotions they can not express yet with words and in a socially acceptable manner. They are often overwhelmed by learning new stuff. The best thing you can do to help them, is being a loving and patient parent.
As they grow up it is our job to prepare them for life. The good parts and the bad parts. To make valuable human beings that will play an integral part of society in the near future. Teach them to be socialized persons that will know their place in larger groups, and in the same not loose themselves.
For this matter I believe teaching your kid these five things is the best favor you can do for them.
- Integrity – integrity is a big word, especially for young kids. Therefore you have to be creative :). Integrity is being able to stand for oneself, especially at tough and challenging situations. Take this down at the level of a young kid and you will see many things. Forced sharing? Forced friendships? Eating foods you really really hate? I am not supporting raising spoiled little brats that do as they please. Treating kids with respect and talking about what they want to do in an exact situation is probably somewhere in the middle. Getting their consent for various simple everyday stuff and respecting their choices teaches them a valuable lesson. The lesson: you matter. Your opinions and feelings matter.
- Work habits – getting your kids to pick up toys or make their beds can be really challenging (trust me I know). Here comes the patient parent :). Kids learn through play. Make a game out of it. Make it a competition. Give stickers for a job well done. Give praise, applause or whatever works in your family. Let them help. Whatever they show interest, be patient and let them “work”. I totally understand that having a kid do the dishes means a big mess, but work habits don’t come overnight. Give them some age appropriate chores they can actually manage. The pleasure of a job well done is probably one of the biggest. Make them a contributing part of the family, so they can be a contributing part of society one day.
- Healthy lifestyle – modern life is filled with various diseases that scare the s**t out of me honestly. Building healthy lifestyle habits is a one of the most important things for me as a mother. Anyhow, I don’t believe in extremities and practice the “everything in moderation” rule. I explain what is healthy and what isn’t. Even though my daughter is still young to understand the whys and the hows of this, I still do it. I try to introduce new healthy foods with a fun twist, arranged in a way that is appealing to kids, and if I have, I lock the pantry where i keep some chocolate or unhealthy snacks. I am now in the process of introducing hiking, even for short distances. She is too young for sports or classes so physical activity at the playground or the local park is an everyday must. She is a very active kid, so this comes very natural to her. But as kids get older and somehow end up a bit hooked up on technology, “enforcing” physical activity that is fun for them is a must. Setting a good example is probably the easiest and most natural way to show them and teach them a healthy lifestyle.
- Manners and good behavior – a good word will get you anywhere. Teaching your kid manners from a young age is probably crucial. I am not saying that you expect your 4 year old sits through a dinner at a fine dining restaurant. Kids will do any kinds of nasty things, and we just have to accept it. It’s part of being a kid, probably the best part. They are still not aware of socially acceptable behavior and I try not to ruin it for them :). Anyhow table manners, language, please and thank you need to gradually become a habit for your kid. As they grow we go on and teach them respect for the elderly. We teach them that difference is normal. We teach them about customs different people have and that they should always respect them. Do it step by step. I am saying again, don’t expect too much of them. As they grow they will always remember what you taught them. Think of it as a life long process where nothing is lost and every small win is a win for life.
- Help them stay weird in their own way. I should have probably chosen different wording for this. Maybe “don’t break their spirit”. Or “let them be themselves”. Or “don’t try to change their character”. Every person is unique in their own way. Kids will go through different challenging phases as they grow, and trying to discipline them can really crush their spirits. Try to treat them with respect even in tough situations. Every parent knows their kid the best and can point out to different character traits that make them unique. Cherish those. Teach them that being yourself and not changing to become more acceptable is crucial. This is probably very important as they reach their teen years when kids can be really cruel if you stand out in any way. We have all seen the effects of bullying. Talk with them and prepare them for this. This is a tough world and being yourself is easier said than done with all the pressure coming from their peers and society in general as they are growing up. There will be a point in adulthood that they will accept themselves fully, but until than be their guide through tough times and don’t let them loose what is unique for them.
This parenting gig is not easy, as a matter of fact is probably the toughest job you will ever do. I wish you all the patience in raising your kids. God knows we all need it :).
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