I am on the other side of raising my kids. Well, mostly. Does it ever really end? Both of my kids are in college, are polite, kind, interesting and inquisitive, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.
The teenage years were tough, but not as tough as they could have been because of the things that we taught them when they were young.
Teaching these things really works. I watched my friends who didn’t teach them flounder during those difficult years and many wished they could go back and reinvent the wheel.
You won’t have to do that if you read this list…
#1 – How to really listen.
If you are going to take only one thing away from this blog post, take this. Listen to your kids and teach them how to listen to you.
Kids have a lot to say, much of it ramblings, but there is a lot of information coming out and if you aren’t listening then you are going to miss it. If you hear what they are saying then you can help, guide and support them with what they need, not what you think they need.
#2 – How to really talk.
We adults tend to discount what children say and we shouldn’t. Let them talk and feel heard and when they are teenagers, and really need to talk, they will come to you.
Talk to your kids in a way that encourages them to listen to you and understand where you are coming from. If they understand you and trust you then they are way more likely to respect you when they are older.
#3 – That you have set fair boundaries and will stick to them.
This is very important. If your kids learn early what their boundaries are, and that their parents will enforce them, they are less likely to push back when they are teenagers. Our kids were allowed one hour of screen time before homework. When that hour was up there was no arguing because they knew that if they argued there would be no screen time the next day. And we stuck to it. The habit of listening to their parents will be as much second nature as brushing their teeth.
#4 – Good habits.
Again, instilling habits is about creating habits that are second nature. Make sure they eat breakfast, that they have some time outside everyday, that they treat the dog with love and respect. When they become self-centered teenagers the habits that they have learned in their childhood will stay with them.
#5 – Good behavior.
Another important one. We parents need to model good behavior. To this end we must follow “The Golden Rule”: do unto others as you would have others do unto you. If you are impatient with your kids or yell at your husband your kids will see your behavior and mimic it. The same with how you talk to people in the store, or on the phone, or at Christmas. If your kids see you being polite, respectful and friendly then they will be more likely to act them same way.
#6 – The value of free time.
Everyone needs to learn what it is like to have some down time. Make sure that they have time every day for themselves and that they aren’t caught up in the maelstrom of modern life…excelling at sports, academics and social service. Yes, make that a part of their lives but also let them be kids. They will be adults soon enough and will have a lifetime of maelstrom.
#7 – The importance of reaching for their dreams.
Kids have dreams and those dreams need to be encouraged and supported by their parents, even if those dreams seem out of reach or ridiculous to you. So instead of trying to “set them straight” about how life works, encourage their pie in the sky dreaming.
And let them fail to reach those dreams, if that is part of their journey. Children who only know success, or that their parents will fix everything, will never learn how to fail in life, how to bounce back and grow. They will just believe that everything will be handled and not reach out to the world with confidence and bravado.
I can promise you now that if you teach these things to your kids those teenage years will be easier. And those teenage years are years when Moms finally have the time to grow themselves. If you aren’t always focused on, and fighting with, your kids then you will have time, and energy, to reach out for your dreams.
And don’t forget- I can help you with that. Get in touch with me NOW and we can get your started. You will be glad you did!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.