There is no shortage of books, columns, blogs and unsolicited advice about the best way to raise your child. I’m adding to it. Just ignore everyone else and follow these tips to give your child a happier, healthier childhood and a well-adjusted adulthood! 1. Don’t give him a choice.
Whether your child wants to try every activity under the sun, or would prefer to spend every spare moment playing games on the computer, choose two or three activities for him to exercise his body, mind and talents. It could be martial arts, dance, sports, scouting, music lessons, or whatever you think best suits your child. The hard part is making him stick with it. There will be times he loves it and times he hates it and wants to quit. Unless he’s being bullied or otherwise mistreated, don’t give in when he starts whining that all of his friends have quit, the activity is boring, or he’d rather do something else. This is usually just a phase that passes as soon as new friends are made or the next big event (tournament, camp-out, recital…) is on the horizon. Completing a full course of activity will bring a sense of accomplishment and pride and teach him the value of commitment.2. Give her firm boundaries, and enforce them.
It’s part of the paradox of childhood that children feel safer when they have boundaries, but they will continually test those boundaries. It’s important that there should be consequences for not being where she is supposed to be, both for her safety and your peace of mind. As she gets older, the boundaries will stretch and the punishment for venturing beyond them or, in the teen years, breaking curfew, should become more severe. From a toddler’s timeout to an adolescent’s grounding, to a teen’s loss of driving privileges, she will learn that challenging parental authority has consequences. This is preferable to having her learn that pushing too hard at boundaries can land her in a dangerous situation which she is not yet equipped to handle.3. Allow her to take risks.
This may seem to contradict number 2, but if she is properly supervised, it is good for your child to take the occasional risk. Sometimes it will be as simple as taking the training wheels off her bicycle. In our case this activity was closely supervised and still ended with seven stitches in our daughter’s chin. It killed me to see her injured and bleeding and I’d love to be able to go back in time and stop the activity before she decided to do “just one more circle.” But accidents are part of an active childhood and can lead to a healthy determination to overcome obstacles and learn new skills. Let her take the risk of climbing the rock wall, riding without the training wheels, diving into the deep end. She may just find a healthy hobby for the rest of her life.4. Let him blow his allowance.
Yes, it’s nice to teach your child the value of money, but he won’t learn by never getting to spend any of it. Let him blow it all on comic books and bubblegum occasionally. If you try to control how he spends his allowance, you are still thinking of it as your money, and that’s not a lesson you want to teach your child. Let him have the fun of splurging once in a while and the happy childhood memories it brings will be worth more than that dime of savings account interest.5. Allow him to fail.
One of the biggest mistakes parents can make is “protecting” their child from failure. Whether it’s arguing with teachers over a grade, stepping in to finish a project, remaking their bed, fighting with coaches, or any of a myriad other actions I’ve seen over the years, removing obstacles and failures from a child’s life is going to handicap him. We learn life’s most important lessons from failing. We acquire goals and the determination to meet them by overcoming obstacles. By rescuing your child from every failure, you are preventing him from learning how to make good choices, teaching him to give up when life gets hard, and giving him the expectation that somebody will always swoop in and save him. In other words, by not allowing him to fail as a child, you are most likely condemning him to failure as an adult.6. Feed her unhealthy foods.
Balanced meals are important, but after a full day of sitting in class, playing hard and riding the bus, it’s cruel to expect your child to snack on carrot sticks and apple juice when she gets home. Nothing beats a couple of cookies and a glass of milk for an after school snack. A good parent will save the beaters with cookie dough still on them for her child to lick. A really
good parent will make sure there are a few chocolate chips still stuck to the dough. And when the ice cream truck is in the neighborhood, give your kid a dollar and watch her face light up as she runs out the door. Do you remember standing in line in the street to buy a Fudgsicle or Eskimo Pie on a hot day? Did it EVER ruin your appetite? Healthy snacks have their place, but don’t let the Health Police ruin your kid’s childhood. Keeping the cookie jar full and teaching self-control will make your child healthier in the long run than any amount of carrot sticks and apple juice. And it doesn't even need to be said that it will make her happier.Do you follow any of these parenting tips? Did your parents when you were growing up (or do you wish they had)?image source