May 18, 2015
We all want to have happy, well adjusted, intelligent, respectful and motivated children. It appears that this reality is far from true for some parents today. When thinking about the pieces of the puzzle that help us raise a child, I think that we have a great role to play. It has been well established that nature and nurture are important, however, I think that nurture is our modifiable priority .
Here are ten ideas to raising a competent and happy child:
1) Unconditional love that is grounded in checking your ambitions and needs before parenting. What do they want and need? Are you there for them despite your frustrations with their choices? Is it about you or them? A very tough question to ask yourself daily. It is well known that children need our love, our guidance but not our unfulfilled childhood stuff.
2) Eat healthy food and eat together at home. Less behavioral food related issues equates to an easier child to parent while they feel better about themselves. Eating together has been shown over and over again to support a mentally healthy child.
3) Support their passions and desires while also encouraging the arts to keep them balanced. One sport or activity all year long is not the best idea. Play an instrument to enhance their brain's functions and relaxation. Cross train the brain and the body.
4) Assume your kids are smart and can handle higher level conversations and work. Treat them with respect for their intelligence and push the knowledge level when you speak to them.
5) Lead by example. How you act will directly influence your kids.
6) Always praise effort. Focus on their strengths while helping them work on weaknesses. Praising talent and ability promotes narcissism while praising effort promotes self esteem and resilience.
7) Have concrete house rules that are written out and in view of the child. Be consistent and loving as you enforce the rules of the family. For example, a young school age child's sleep time during the week should be 7 - 8 PM in order to get adequate sleep. That is it. Less fatigue equals easier parenting and better performance in school.
8) Expose your children to well behaved peers and parents that model great behavior. Positive behavior enhances the same and visa versa.
9) Teach your children how to be mindful. Meditation, prayer, breath work and writing in a journal all help a child feel balanced and present moment. Grooving in these techniques can have unbelievable benefits when a child is exposed to acute or chronic stress.
10) Teach your child to express his or her feelings in a parent based nonjudgmental environment. If they learn to tell the truth and move through a painful experience or a poor choice, they will develop better coping skills and likely have less anxiety and baseline stress.