I attended a parenting roadshow last week and picked up some good parenting tips that I would like to share with you. These tips apply from young school age children right through to teenagers. The subject of the presentation was how to raise confident, happy and resilient kids. Below is a summary of the key takeaways for me.
As parents we want our children to be confident, happy and resilient so that as they grow up they can:
- reach their full potential
- get on well with others
- think for themselves
- tackle most things that life throws at them
- be contributors to society
Too many parents stress themselves out as they try to give their kids the best of everything. How would it feel if you were to just relax and enjoy your children? Some things you might want to try:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff (like clothes being left on the bedroom floor)
- Do focus on the major stuff (like making sure they understand never to get into the car with someone who has been drinking alcohol)
- Get a Life! Don’t make your life all about your kids. Get out and have time with your partner and friends as often as you can. If you focus 100% on your kids you will be miserable and lonely when they leave home (I know a wealthy, single mother who is going through this right now). When you do things without them, they learn that it is healthy and part of life to have their own hobbies and activities.
- Be secure in your love. This is THE most important thing you can offer your kids. If they think you don’t love them, you are setting them up to fail. When your child feels loved, they know that no matter how bad their day at school was, they will always have a loving home to come back to where they do not feel judged or disrespected.
- Listen to them. No, REALLY listen to them. Are you guilty of looking at your phone while your daughter talks to you about her day and you nod and say u-huh, yep, that’s nice honey. Put the phone down, look her in the eyes, and show her that she is the single most important thing in your life right at that minute. This will make her feel loved. And don’t stop there. Reflective listening is such an important tool to have in your toolbox, that you can use it with your partner, family, colleagues and friends. I challenge you to try it for a week. Just listen to the person talking, be present, look them in the eyes and acknowledge you understand what they are telling you. Don’t judge, just listen. When you are truly present with someone, they feel respected. Accepting their feelings is accepting them as a person. And when your daughter becomes a teenager, all that active listening practice will have paid off as she will come to you to ‘download’ her day rather than sit in her room with her headphones on thinking that her parents don’t understand her. She will feel loved and confident in herself and will be better equipped to make wise choices.
The 5 Love Languages
Garry Chapman wrote a very good book called The 5 Love Languages. If you have not read it, buy a copy now! Every home should own this book. I’ve put links to the couples and children’s version of the book at the bottom of this article. You will learn about your partners love language and how to make them feel loved and appreciated. The 5 love languages are:
- Acts of service
- Quality time and attention
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch and closeness
- Give Giving
The love languages apply to your children too. When you understand which love language is most important to them, you can really start meeting their needs and make them feel understood and loved.
Do you give your children chores to do? Of course you do! Chores should not be punishment. They are a positive tool that teach life skills, team work and resilience. If you do anything for your child that they can do for themselves you are robbing them! I have an 8 yo daughter and 5 yo son and they have several chores they do daily including basics like setting the table and rinsing their own plates and putting them in the dishwasher.
Chores help reduce the ‘world revolves around me’ beliefs. They also help teach time management and will even save you time and energy (eventually) as you delegate responsibility of the jobs to the kids (I can’t wait till they can pick up the dog poo and mow the lawns!) You will also feel like you are not being taken for granted.
Kids that learn how to do chores effectively are:
- Nicer to live with
- Can move out of home earlier!
- Make good flatmates
Don’t pay them for doing chores. Chores should be seen as duties and pocket money is given for privileges. If you really want to reward for chores, consider only paying if they go over and above or do extra chores than what is required. A great quote that came up in the session was that kids never notice a tail wind…in other words, if you scream around doing everything for them they will be in your tail wind and will not even notice!
Rewards charts should be used for a short time with small achievable goals. When your child completes the required task or action, they are rewarded. Soon, you will notice that the action becomes automatic because a new habit has been formed. At this point, cease use of the reward chart for a while. Later, you might decide to re-establish the reward chart to help your child form a new positive habit.
Teach your children new tasks via the below process:
- You watch me – you complete the task while your child watches even several times if required until they show understanding.
- You help me – Next, let your child help you complete the task. This process will help them gain confidence without them having the full responsibility to complete the task on their own.
- I’ll help you – Now let them complete most of the task and you help them when they get stuck. This process helps your child gain the required skills to complete the task well.
- I’ll watch you – Finally, let your child complete the task on their own and provide positive feedback when they are done. This process will provide affirmation to them and they will feel loved, respected and appreciated. They will feel like they are contributing to the family.
I hope some of these tips have been helpful for you as they are for me. Feel free to provide feedback or discussion in the comments section below. Happy parenting!