Parenting is one of the most challenging and important job in the world. There is no one single set of golden rules because every kid is different. The difficult part is how to find a balance between being too strict or too lenient. Being too strict can suppress a child’s emotions too much and destroy his or her self esteem. Being too lenient will create a monster kid who is confused and lonely. So what should a parent do to cultivate good characters in a kid?
1. Do not overreact.
Most of the time a kid made a mistake out of ignorance. Children usually don’t make a mistake to hurt a parent. So there is no point of getting angry. If the parents take the kid’s mistake personally, it is very easy to get out of temper and make the kid get scarred. If the parent keeps overreacting to everything, the kid will be afraid to share anything with the parent. It will be hard to repair the relationship in the future.
2. Respect the child
Every human being deserves respect, including children. Children needs to feel valued and appreciated by adults, especially their parents. Parents should always model polite manners like saying “please” and “thank you”. Parents should avoid put down or causing shame or guilt in a child. When the children feel appreciated, they will respect their parents in return. The children will grow up becoming confident and sincere.
3. Listen to the child
If parents encourage the child to share little stories every day, the child will feel valued by the parents. When we listen to a kid’s story, we need to try our best to listen without interrupting or judging. Sometimes when I am tired, I will just keep smiling and nodding when I listen to the kids. They will feel happy after talking to me. Listening to kids is a great way to build trust.
4. Be strict but not mean
When we see a kid being naughty, we will have the urge to reprimand him or her. We may want to punish the kid so that he or she will not make the same mistake again. But we can do it without getting emotional and mean. Children always remember humiliation and insult. And it is impossible to take the words back once it’s said.
First we need to understand that it is normal for kids to make mistake. Then we observe our emotions closely and make sure that we don’t reprimand or punish the kid just to release our anger. We should listen to the kid’s explanation carefully first. Then we guide the kid the think of a better way to handle a situation. If necessary, we can use a calm but serious tone to give consequences to the kid, for example, taking away play time. As long as the kid knows that there is always a consequence or sacrifice whenever he or she makes a mistake. Consistency is the key.
5. Plant good seeds
We should plant good seeds by talking to the kid all the time. By talking, I mean meaningful positive and inspiring talks but not gossiping. Parents can share news, interesting family stories, or life experiences. There should be a moral lesson for these stories. Parents can cultivate grit, hope, love, positivity, etc in their kids every day through talking. Do not be reactive parents who will teach kids important life lessons only when their kids make mistakes or have crisis. We should do precautions by planting seeds ahead of time. Be proactive parents.
6. Have faith
I believe that every kid was born with their own tendencies and talents. As parents, we cannot have full control how our kids will turn out. All we can do is to love, nurture and support a child no matter what may come. We should encourage a child to pursue any dreams he or she have that is beneficial to the society. We should be a cheerleader not a downer. Have faith in a kid’s potential. Have faith that the kid knows that the parent loves him. Have faith in the Mother Nature and that everything will be alright. Then the kid will learn how to face every difficulty with optimism.
7. Positive reinforcement is 100 times more effective than criticism
If you want a kid to be hardworking, praise him or her whenever he or she puts some effort in doing something rather than reprimanding how lazy he or she is. Criticizing a kid all the time without praising can make a kid lethargic and confused because the kid just know what not to do but not what to do. Constant criticism induces fear and shame in someone. It immobilized people and make them lose the motivation to learn. If you want a kid or someone to change, praise them the qualities that you wish them to have.