Our children are our heritage and responsibility to train in love – or whatever positive way it helps them grow and become great people. Funny tiny little thing about every child is that they have this code in them that helps them break down communication down.
This code is a big magnet called imitation – doing what others do. As simple as that. Now, as a parent there are some things you wouldn’t want your kids to do, it is totally up to you to make that happen. Not only by what you teach them but by what you do.
However, I have been able to compile a few things I know parents who seek the best from their children should do in front of them to imitate.
1. Saying please and thank you: I don’t mean to sound like your grandparents but what’s with the lack of manners nowadays? I think good manners are essential and have an enormous impact on the way people interact with you. Children need to see their parents being polite with others because this is the fastest way for them to learn. They won’t do it if they don’t see you doing it!
Action point: When someone holds a door open for you, say thank you (or be the one holding the door open for someone else). Be kind and polite to servers and cashiers. Be well-mannered with your spouse. If your hubby washes the laundry, thank him for it (and make sure the kids see you doing so as well). Thank your children when they do something helpful.
2. Making healthy choices: Many factors contribute to living a healthy lifestyle. From exercise to food choices, to adequate sleep and hygiene, we have got to demonstrate to our children what a healthy lifestyle looks like.
Action point: When selecting beverages, opt for water instead of soda. Involve your children in making healthy choices at the grocery store; instead of chips, get hummus and carrots! Opt for a family walk over a family movie. Demonstrate proper (and thorough) hand washing.
3. Praying: Do you pray in front of your children or do you reserve prayer for meal time and before bed? Our children need to see their parents praising God and thanking Him for His blessings.
Action point: Pray regularly in front of your children. If something comes up (i.e. they mention a friend has a cold) offer to pray with them.
4. Doing the things they love: Do you have a hobby? How often do you reserve that hobby for a time when the children are involved in other activities or after they’re in bed? Wouldn’t it be neat if your child got to see your enthusiasm for building model train sets? Wouldn’t it fascinate them to see how much you enjoy something?
Action point: Plan your hobby times so that your children have an opportunity to see you doing something that you enjoy. If they ask questions, tell them about your activity. Maybe they would like to try it, too!
5. Playing with your wife – and of course, they also: Are you a very confident and balanced father? Then you should play with your family all the time. No matter how busy you are, find time to come home and play with your wife – and the kids also. It helps them to know that you care and there is a place for fun and playing in a family. Nothing can take the place of that fact in a child.
Action point: sometimes, you don’t even have to kick start the play, just looking after them does it. Cracking jokes, or watching a comedy can do the trick. Make sure you laugh out loud often. It helps.
6. Seeking other people’s Opinion: It is very expedient that your children know that you are not an island of knowledge and wisdom. Counsel is good and you might even engage your child on that new project you want to start. You don’t know, your child might surprisingly give you the edge you are looking for.
Action point: Just imagine you calling your young daughter and asking her about the new house project. You can tell your son you intend to get a new truck and you want his opinion on it. The more they see you ask your wife and others around you for opinion, it shows they are inclusive and they matter, which in turn help them treat others that way.
7. Defending the defenseless: A lot of parents do not know that they sow a wrong seed into their children when they see you shout people down in public. You use your power to get what you want instead of following the right process. It goes on to tell the child he is above others and can treat people like they don’t count.
Action point: it is a very easy thing to do when you teach your child he has to obey laws. If you want to have peace in the future, make sure you help your child see that others matter also – and due process pays off.
8. Reading: I don’t read as much as I would like to. Plus, when I do read, it’s while I’m riding the exercise bike or before bed. Children need to see their parents reading and enjoying books. By modeling an appreciation of literature, children are more likely to engage in reading as well.
Action item: Try scheduling reading time as a family. Everyone grabs some books and reads on the couch together.
9. Helping the less privileged: Even if you are a one-income family. Even though your budget is tight, often look for ways to help those less fortunate. Whether it’s donating food to the food bank or collecting money for the homeless, do what you can to help those less fortunate.
Action item: Commit to one volunteering or charitable action at least once a month. Whenever possible, involve your children. It could be as simple as asking them to look through their drawers to select clothing items to donate to a local shelter. Another idea is to have your children choose several items to donate to the food bank.
10. Being conscientious with money: All children grow up to be adults who buy, sell, and invest. Children need opportunities to observe their parents being practical and wise with money.
Action item: When shopping, allow your child to hear your decision-making process (i.e. I won’t get this but I’m going to watch for a sale). It’s also beneficial to demonstrate how you purchase based on needs rather than wants. You could also start a family savings jar for a special purchase or activity.