There are countless parenting styles out there – from the strict and unforgiving to the relaxed and lenient. Despite these differences, most will agree that a parent’s overall goal is to prepare their children to enter – and thrive in – the big, wide world.
And while each family will do this in their own particular way, it’s safe to say that many will focus on a handful of common values. So no matter the methods, parents must recognize how important it is to uphold, teach, and ultimately pass on these universal truths that greatly impact our lives and the lives of those around us.
By highlighting the importance of grit, independence, discipline, character, and presence, you’ll be preparing your children for their successful, fulfilling futures. (Trust us, they will thank you!)
Our world is fast-paced and dominated by technology and media of all kinds. Our kids are used to immediate answers and outcomes. In turn, they balk when it takes time to figure out a problem or practice a new skill.
Therefore, it’s up to us to foster a work ethic. Let’s remind them that before the rise of technology we still accomplished things, just at a different pace. We need to show them that there is joy in the process of creating something, as well as in the end product. Believe it or not, grit or old-fashioned patience, perseverance, and practice still have a place in our exhilarating, modern world!
The role of parents is to ready their children for an independent life, one that may include a home, a job, a family, and friends of their own. Obviously, this sense of independence doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s a gradual process that needs constant encouragement.
Parents can promote self-sufficiency by encouraging free play. In other words, instead of structuring playtime (for example, playing “store” by lining up items to “buy” and handing out money), allow kids to imagine scenarios (and props) on their own. Without parental interference, they may be motivated to come up with unique ways to pass the time. They may feel more comfortable being creative and sharing ideas.
And while they’re bound to complain about being bored, this can lead to clever problem-solving and resolutions. Certainly, these are all beneficial qualities that will serve them well in the future.
When it comes to keeping kids in line, it’s tough to decide on the best method. That said, some aspects of discipline should be emphasized on a regular basis. The first of these is empathy – admittedly, a tricky concept for youngsters. The best way to explain empathy is to acknowledge that other children have feelings as well. Explain that even if a child feels differently than us, the feelings are equally valid.
Once emotional responses have been acknowledged, kids need to be guided in their responses. It’s okay to come down on bad behavior and to stress why certain actions aren’t allowed. From there, set logical limits so your child can make a better choice next time.
As much as we adore our children, we must teach them that the world involves others who matter just as much. In addition, we must stress the importance of living a grateful life, being thankful for the earth making room for all of its inhabitants.
And perhaps one of the best ways to build character is to maintain your own identity even while you’re committed to taking care of your child. Remember that you’re a role model to the younger set. If you’re mindful of others yet still manage to take time to do something you love – besides parenting – you’ll be providing a positive example of a well-rounded character.
As the world buzzes on by, it’s no surprise that so many of us are constantly distracted. But we owe it to our children to slow down and focus – to take the time to tell them they are loved and appreciated. This deliberate “time out” doesn’t have to stretch on for long periods of time. Instead, the connection should be quick yet genuine – a consistent reminder that we see our kids through the chaos and noise, and are always grateful for them.
When we are fully present, it’s easier to spot teachable moments, namely those experiences that we can turn into memorable life lessons. But while you are doing this, remember that a young brain is not yet fully developed, respect its limitations.
By modeling the behavior we wish to see in our child, it’s our hope that we’ll pass on the importance of grit, independence, discipline, character, and presence. When we share these essential values, we’re preparing our children for a happy, healthy, and harmonious future.
It takes a village!
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