You want the best for your children. You want them to grow up as kind, good-natured, and respected individuals in society. What’s amazing is how easily we forget when we were kids and the environment that helped mold our personality into what it is today. Obviously, kids today grow up in an environment that’s radically different from that, but the fundamental aspects of shaping a child’s habits in his/her formative years remain the same.
Make it a game
Unlike adults, children live in the present. In their early years, it’s extremely tedious and most often useless to make them do something for long-term gains. So the key is to structure a strategy that is based on repeated reinforcement and immediate rewards. You can reward your child for basic things like being responsible for their belongings, keeping their room clean, brushing their teeth, washing their hands, using “thank you” and “please,” and helping you out with chores at home.
You may reserve punishment for extreme situations, but the results are short term. Before it comes to that, make it a point to give them small tasks and goals, and reward their accomplishments. This creates a mental blueprint for the kind of behavior that yields a positive outcome.
Magic of routine
Inherently, people love a routine and having a schedule to stick to. It’s crucial for a child to have a routine to work with. It goes a great way in helping them prioritize tasks and be productive. It helps them build focus and clear away mental clutter. As parents, it’s imperative that we give them a plausible routine and follow up on its implementation continuously through positive reinforcement and reminders. It’s always going to be difficult, to begin with, but if you stay the course, the results will show, and your children will silently thank you for it later on.
Walk the talk
One of the most common mistakes we make as parents is expecting our kids to be better than we are without making an effort to improve ourselves. They may be lacking life experience, but kids are not stupid. They sense when you’re being insensitive and when you don’t really believe in what you say. So make it a point to live out the example before you impose something on them. You want your kids to be punctual? Show them you are punctual. You want them to work hard? Show them how it’s done. You don’t have to be successful all the time, but they need to see you putting in the effort and time.
Be part of the game
A lot of parents think that they need to maintain some kind of status quo with their children, where they somehow have the right to tell them what to do, but without actually engaging them in their world. You feel it’s easier to keep a certain distance. This is not going to work out long term. Kids respond better to someone who faces the same challenges they do. Engage with them. Try to understand their world rather than to expect them to listen to you.
Build a body of experience
It’s important to inculcate the value of things from a very young age, and it’s amazing how you can do this by just spending time with your child. They need to understand that experiences count more than materialistic rewards. When your child sees you take time out of your busy schedule to go on a week-long vacation with the family, or even just a quick drive with the kids around the block for ice cream, it says a lot. And as your child grows older, these are the memories that reinforce their happiness, making them want to do the same for their family.
At the end of the day, it is your child. There is no specific strategy. We all make mistakes, but we learn from them and move on. The most crucial aspect of raising a child is to make him or her feel loved. You will figure out the rest.