10 Parenting Tips: Be A Role Model For Your Kids
by Yang Wai Chin
(Petaling Jaya, Selangor, MALAYSIA.)
My 10 Parenting Tips are listed in random order:
- 1. Make them understand that approval is not the same as love and vice versa. For example, I may not approve or agree with certain things that my kids do but that does not mean I love them any less. This I learned at a training called "Personal Mastery" that I attended more than 10 years ago.
- 2. Let the kids grow up in a harmonious and loving environment. I always tee up my spouse in front of the kids and never interrupt whenever my spouse is giving pep talk or coaching the kids even if his opinions may differ from mine. Discuss or dispute later in private. This is because if I were to keep interrupting or correcting my husband's teaching/opinion, the kids will lose confidence and respect towards him. I also take care not to quarrel nor fight with my spouse in front of the kids, no matter how upset I may feel. We would do it only in private and away from the kids because they may get very disturbed and worry about their parents separating. Kids grow up happier and more confident with parents showing a united and loving front.
- 3. Demonstrate respect to others and put others before self. Show love and respect to both my parents and my in-laws. Never to argue or be rude to them, especially in front of the kids. It is important for kids to learn to respect the elders and pass on this value to their kids too. My husband is a good role model for this. During meals, he also trains our teenager to serve food to the others seated at the same dining table and not to grab food for himself first. This value, I notice, is sadly lacking in many youngsters these days who are used to being served before others.
- 4. Teach the kids to respect the differences in others. My teenager has often shared with me about his friend’s negative views to certain political party. I explained that his friend is most likely influenced by his parents who have the same views. I further explained that his views can be both right or wrong. Even if I do not concur, I would still respect the difference because what is true for somebody may not necessarily be true for another. I told him to remember that before judging anyone.
- 5. Demonstrate assertiveness instead of aggression, trust instead of accusation. Do not react aggressively or violently when kids do something wrong, especially if it was unintentional, for example, spilled food or drinks or broke some valuable stuff. First, make sure that the kids are not hurt, then clean up the mess and speak calmly to the kids. Share with them your feelings about their making the mistake and encourage them to be more careful the next time. Other than giving them confidence and reassurance, they also learn a good example of not panicking and know how to react calmly when some accident happens. Another thing is when I hear complaints about my kid from the teacher or anyone, I will not immediately react and reprimand. Instead, I will settle for a one-to-one talk with my kid to understand the situation from his side before deciding on the next course of action.
- 6. It is better to reinforce positive values than negative ones. If kids complain about other kids hitting them or snatching their stuff, never teach them to hit back or pay back in kind. This will only make the vicious cycle go round endlessly. If the bullying child is someone close to me, like my nephew, I will not hit him back or snatch my kid’s toy back from him just to appease my kid. Neither would I encourage his mom to punish him by hitting him back. Instead, I always tell my nephew to love his cousins and be a good playmate. My kid had once told me about some nasty stuff that he overheard someone else talking about me. Instead of getting angry, I told him that while we cannot control what others say about us, we can control what we want to say and think about others. If others were to badmouthed us, it is more important that we do not do the same thing.
- 7. Encourage sibling bonding. If the siblings have a fight or quarrel, I try not to take sides. I try not to reprimand the faulty party in front of the other too. When I’m spending private moments with my son, I will talk good things about my daughter, letting him understand how much his sister loves him and her significance to him, and vice versa with my daughter too. This will lessen sibling rivalry and encourage them to appreciate each other more.
- 8. Provide an environment for healthy lifestyle. I do not want my kids to take junk food, so I never buy any to stock up at home. Whatever junk food that my kids get to taste are just occasional treats given by friends or relatives. If they give too much, I’ll either give some away or throw them away. I always try to substitute unhealthy snacks with healthier ones. Thank god my kids rarely ask for junk food as they do not have the habit to indulge on them. I won’t dismiss the possibility of them taking liberties with their doting grandparents, though. Another thing is to encourage kids to sleep early by going to bed early myself. I also teach my kids to recycle as much as possible. Both my husband and I do not drink alcohol, smoke, gamble nor use any foul language or swear words. If I ever catch my teenager swearing due to peer influence, I would firmly tell him not to do so because nobody in the family uses nor tolerate foul words. Also, it would be real bad if his kid sister were to follow suit. He would always acknowledge this point and promised to watch his language, especially when among family members.
- 9. Do not splurge on your kids, even if you can well afford it. I worry about my kids turning into computer addicts. So I allow only minimum internet surfing for them and I do not buy them any gaming consoles like Play station or Wii. As for mobile phones, I only provide them with those that can do basic functions decently, instead of the latest model. I have seen how some youngsters were presented with laptops and the latest gaming consoles and their now regretful parents have to shout at them many times before they could drag themselves away from the computer or TV for daily routines like taking meals, bath, sleep, not to mention school work too. My kids occasionally complain about their not having the cool stuff as their well-heeled peers but deep inside they seldom envy them, especially when they get yelled at by their frustrated parents.
- 10. Empower your kids by letting go. My husband does not believe in spoon-feeding or getting everything ready for our teenager, say, when he’s going on an outing without us. If there’s anything left out of the packing list that he’ll need during his trip, he’ll have to figure out how to resolve the problem. This way he’ll be empowered to be more resourceful or be more careful the next time. Empowering our kids are very important because sooner or later they will need to make it on their own without parental interference. Therefore, it is better to let them test the waters now while we are still around to guide them or to pull them out from the deep end if they should flounder. This way, they’ll learn through personal experience minus the actual danger. Another example is letting the child touch a very warm kettle to deter him from going to touch a boiling kettle the next time because he already understood how uncomfortable that could be. It is more effective than to keep telling him not to touch the hot kettle if he does not know how hot it feels.
I believe that it is more effective to teach by setting good examples ourselves than just lay down the rules for the kids.
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