Top 5 parenting lessons
What are the most important life lessons you can teach your child?
By Scott Dunlop
Parents panic about the details- “What if my child turns out to be a bad person”, they’ll wonder, “and it’ll be my fault?” There are many choices your child will make which are beyond your control, but here are some of the most effective life lessons you can quite easily teach your child. With these simple skills, your child will be better equipped to deal with a variety of challenges. Take a look, and see if you agree:
Please, thank you and even table manners play a vital role in preparing your child for life. If you allow your kid to sit around burping or farting at the dinner table or treating everyone with disrespect, you’re not helping them. It takes a routine of reminding them what is acceptable (and modelling it yourself), and sometimes it isn’t immediately visible at home- many parents are shocked when their child goes to a birthday party, and the party parents comment afterwards that “your child is so well-mannered and polite”. It takes an effort, but your kid will benefit in situations ranging from the classroom to business transactions later in life.
You may have quite firm religious, traditional or cultural beliefs at home, but there’s no reason why your child should learn to mistrust, hate or fear people from other backgrounds. If you teach your X religion kid to hate another religion, that’s only going to limit him socially. In the same way, racism is in part learned behaviour, and the way you treat others will influence your child. Tolerance does not mean accepting cruelty, bullying or criminal behaviour.
It’s a dog eat dog world out there- People are looking out for themselves, and, very often, stopping at nothing to further their agendas. You can choose to treat everyone badly in pursuit of your goals, or, exercise kindness, even when it may not have any tangible reward for you. Being good to people, helping others and offering empathy and sympathy are part of what connect us to society. Your child can still become successful without trampling everyone in his path. Kindness is also often responded to with kindness, too.
This is a tricky one. Standing your ground when the easier choice is to cave in to pressure is hard. It also starts in small ways, though- following through with what you have said you’re going to do, showing your child, for example, that if you have said you’re going to discipline him in some way that you actually do it, or, if you have a commitment to a work or social event, actually doing it. In a world where people’s words are no longer their bonds, your child will stand out if he has this quality.
Pride is a stumbling block- It keeps us from admitting when we screw up and from forgiving others. It’s not a religious concept, either: Being willing to admit a mistake (without making excuses) is essential in moving on in relationships. Parents, as much as anyone, need to admit making mistakes to their children, so that, in the future, your child will feel more capable of admitting something he’s done, rather than making excuses or, even worse making up lies to conceal a mistake. It’s possible for your child to exercise humility without being a doormat, too- an adult with confidence and a healthy self-image is able to recognise that he isn’t perfect.
Having suggested all of these tips, I personally have to work on them daily, and fail at each of them. I see them as goals which have rewards even as I attempt them. I know that I’d love my children to grow up with these personality traits, but perhaps your goals for your children are different...
What qualities would you most like to see in your children?
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