You don’t need us to tell you that being a parent involves a lot of responsibility. You’ll need to do everything for your child in their early years, from getting them dressed, to feeding them. As they get older, they can take over the basic stuff, but that doesn’t mean your job is over. If you want to give your kids the best start, you also need to teach them essential life lessons. These things may seem basic to you, but they’re brand new concepts for your child.
Of course, they learn more from you than what you tell them. In fact, most of the lessons you’ll teach are involuntary. Children see their parents as role models and often mimic their behavior. So, you need to ensure that you’re practicing the lessons you preach. Otherwise, your child may not grasp what you’re trying to tell them. Worse, they could develop bad habits, which can be difficult to unlearn once they’re ingrained.
To prove the point, we’re going to look at some of the critical lessons, and how you can teach by doing each.
Manners are one of the first things any parent attempts to teach their kids. These are the basis of all human interaction. If your child enters a classroom with no manners, they’ll find it difficult to make friends and may get into trouble. So, you need to get on this bandwagon early. Of course, really young children aren’t able to grasp this concept. But, from 18 months onwards, most children develop an awareness of those around them. And, with that awareness comes an ability to understand manners.
Obviously, your teachings will vary depending on the setting. You’ll need to teach table manners, as outlined on sites like www.quickanddirtytips.com. Think, too, about conversation etiquette and so forth. You’ll also need to teach the essential p’s and q’s, and should focus on these first. Get into the habit of prompting your child any time they forget to say please or thank you. While not necessary every time, you may want to start by explaining why these words are so essential.
Once you start your teachings, it’s time to put manners into practice. If your child never hears you saying please or thank you in the home, they’re less likely to pick up the habit. Make sure to always thank your partner or kids for passing you things. It’s easy to forget manners when we’re rushing, or within the family home. But, it’s a mistake you can’t afford to make any more. More than that, you should make a specific point of it. Make sure to say thank you loudly, and check your kids heard.
It’s also down to you to make sure your kids develop decent hygiene habits. Admittedly, until their teen years, you’ll probably have to force them into that bathtub. But, you can still attempt to lead by example here. Presumably, you already wash on a regular basis. Get into the habit of leaving the bathroom door ajar, and inviting the kids to speak with you while you’re in the bath. As well as enforcing the behavior, this can help dispel some of the fear kids seem to develop around bath times. Mommy does it, so it can’t be that bad.
Make sure, too, to practice good dental hygiene with your kids. Getting them to brush their teeth can be tricky, but it’s a lesson you need to teach. Start with soft brushes and kid-friendly toothpaste. And, get them into the habit of brushing for long enough by doing your teeth at the same time. This is an excellent excuse to get on top of your dental hygiene, as well as ensuring your kids don’t run into trouble. If you don’t take this step, they could face extreme dental work during their early years. Equally, your having to get dental work done could set a bad impression. If your teeth aren’t in the best condition as it stands, it may be worth getting them sorted before your kids become aware. Otherwise, it’ll be harder to get them to follow your teachings. After all, it’ll be obvious that you didn’t get on top of things. Of course, money is always tight with newborns. Either find an insurance plan which would cover the work, or find out about GoMedigap.com and other such insurance supplements. Whatever you do, don’t put off that much-needed work. Think of your kids, and start as you mean them to go on.
Bed at a decent hour
Any parent will tell you that bedtime is not a good time. Kids don’t like the idea of winding down. They want to play! As such, teaching the importance of bedtime at a decent hour can be an ongoing challenge. In truth, there’s no easy fix here. It’s all about perseverance, and not pandering when your kids scream and play up. Put them in bed again and again if they keep getting up. Whatever you do, don’t interact with them or respond to their tantrums. And, of course, it can help to keep bedtime to the same time each day. That way, their bodies should get into the routine.
Aside from that, though, you can come back to this lesson of teaching by doing. Obviously, you aren’t going to go to bed as early as your kids. Why would you? But, staying up until the early hours of the morning isn’t going to help you spread the right message. This is especially the case if you struggle to get out of bed in the morning because you’re tired. Your kids will want to do the same as you. Instead, make sure that you go to bed at a decent hour, and wake up early. If that means going to bed an hour or two after your kids, then so be it. Over time, they’ll see how important it is to get a decent amount of sleep. Or, at least, that’s the plan.
Respect is another valuable lesson. In a way, this ties in with manners, but it’s worth a mention of its own. Respecting other people is crucial in a variety of ways. This can include respecting elders, respecting authority, and also respecting other people’s space. All of which are vital for interactions your child will face on a daily basis. This isn’t an easy lesson to teach, but again, setting the right example can be the best way to go about it. If your child witnesses you being disrespectful, they won’t see anything wrong with doing the same. Equally, if you speak abruptly to them, they’ll adopt the tone when talking to others. To make sure that doesn’t happen, always talk to your kids with respect. Keep calm, and consider everything you say. That way, they’ll understand that, even when you’re angry, it doesn’t pay to be rude or disrespect anyone.
When it comes to teaching them to respect other kids’ space, the best thing to do is let them play with other kids. This is how they learn to share and respect other people’s belongings. Keep a close eye on early play, and don’t hesitate to jump in if you see an unhealthy behavior. Promote the importance of sharing at all times.
You can also harbor respect for authority by showing it yourself. During their early years, your kid will need to respect their teacher above all. That’s the primary reason schools adopt a ‘Miss, Mrs, Mr,’ form of address. Make sure to honor this by always using these labels when talking to your child about their teacher. And, if you do hear of any cases of disrespect in the classroom, make sure to address the issue straight away.
Time away from screens
In the modern age, it’s all too easy for kids to develop unhealthy habits when it comes to screen time. It’s now not unusual for kids to have iPads, or play with their parent’s phones. Not to mention that many children spend an unhealthy amount of time in front of the television. Now, don’t get us wrong. Screens have their place. Tele can teach vital social skills, and educational games on phones can be a fun way of learning. But, spending too long in front of screens is never a good thing. Any parent should work to limit that amount of time to no more than two or so hours a day. To ensure you can achieve the goal, it’s worth encouraging other hobbies, such as reading or crafting.
And, of course, you need to spend time away from screens as well. You can hardly limit your kids if you spend the whole evening flicking through your phone. As well as breeding resentment, this will send a clear message that screens are fine. Instead, limit yourself, too. If your kids are having a no-screen hour, put your phone away. Instead, join in with whatever they’re going. Pick up a book, or get knitting. Just get away from those screens!