Everyone wants decent kids, right?
But they don’t happen by accident.
Do you remember saying, “My kids will never…” or, “I will never allow my kids to…?”
And it all flew out the window once those mini tornadoes hit your calm, planned life.
You ended up doing all sorts of things you never thought you would because parenting is just so hard and you’re trying to keep your head above water – never mind be proactive.
Take it from one who parented like this for the first seven years.
It was chaos.
And I was a wreck.
There are many important things to consider when you’re a parent and I was missing one of the most important:
Begin with the end in mind.
What you do today is what you will have tomorrow. What you sow today you will reap tomorrow.
Thinking about how you’d like your kids to be one day and actively working towards that now, is key to having great kids.
Not perfect. Just well balanced, sensible, responsible adults.
This is how it works: if you don’t want your kids to be brats at thirteen, don’t let them be brats at three. If you want them to be kind at fifteen, teach them to be kind at five.
Keeping the end in mind will make a difference to how you parent today.
“You’ve got to think about big things while doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” [i]
To help you keep the end in mind, make a list of things to aim for as you raise your kids.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
If you want your kids to be responsible when they are older give them responsibility as soon as they are able to bear it – and that may be sooner than you think.
Don’t do anything for your kids that they could do for themselves.
Teach them to dress themselves, pick up their toys, wash dishes, clean the car, or mow the lawn. You will be surprised at how high your kids will rise when you raise your expectations.
If you haven’t given your kids responsibility you can expect some backlash when you begin to implement your expectations. Have a conversation with them, apologise for not giving them responsibility, and don’t back down on your new requirements.
Do you want your kids to be able to go to bed without you having to lie with them for three hours, fetch untold number of glasses of water, or chase them back to bed ten times?
Start now and train your kids to stay in bed.
There were times when one of our kids crawled into our bed with us but because our expectation was, everyone has their own bed and everyone sleeps in their own bed, it never became a habit to have kids in our bed with us.
This was good for them and us. J
If you want your kids to be obedient then don’t overlook the small disobediences now.
The reaching out of the hand to touch something you have said not to. Putting a toy away in a different place than you said to. Dropping food from the high chair when you just said “no”.
Little disobediences do matter. Don’t tolerate them because they are small.
Small things become big things if overlooked.
When obedience is your expectation you will be less likely to make excuses for disobedience.
Sitting still in church
Don’t stay away from church because your child can’t sit still that long. Teach them at home to sit quietly, to play with one toy, and to obey you when you say “shhh”.
I made the mistake of turning church time into playschool time with heaps of toys to keep my kids occupied.
When I realised my mistake I chose a few toys that were only allowed for church time (this kept them special and interesting). We also spent some time playing “church” at home – practising sitting still on the couch.
Later we moved to the front of the church and saw an immediate difference in our kids’ behaviour. Somehow sitting in front made them behave better – perhaps the idea that everyone could see them, I’m not sure.
Because our expectation was, you will sit still for half an hour in church, our kids soon learned to do so. Not every week was a success but we kept working toward our goal until it became reality.
Manners and eating habits.
Don’t allow your toddlers to throw food around or make a huge mess when they eat. Start young and teach them to chew with their mouths closed, not to speak with food in their mouths etc.
Undoing bad manners is a lot harder than creating good eating habits. Best to start now.
Read my post on teaching manners to your kids here.
Honesty begins in the little things. Teach your kids to respect others’ belongings by showing respect for their siblings’ things. Don’t allow your children to dig in each other’s drawers or to “borrow” things without their knowledge.
Deal firmly and decisively with lying the moment it happens. It won’t just go away on its own.
Guard the beginnings of things you don’t want to grow in your kids.
If you aim at nothing you will hit it. Every time.
Having expectations will give you something to aim for instead of drifting along without goals.
Create a list of what you value and would like to see in your kids as they get older and then actively work towards those things.
Begin with the end in mind and keep that end in mind as you raise your kids.
the world of parenting you get what you tolerate. What are you tolerating? What
expectations do you need to set for your kids?
[i] Alvin Toffler