One of the principal pieces of advice that I have for parents with kids in the 0-5 range is to look at their behavior and picture it on an adult. Often parents have a very “here and now” mentality about raising their kids, and while being present and in the moment is obviously important, we can try to have a big picture outlook about the humans we are molding.
It is very important to think about the kinds of character traits we want our children to have when they grow up. Do we want them to be strong, independent, kind, selfless, compassionate, loving, forgiving, generous? Then we need to not only demonstrate these characteristics to our kids, but also do our best to correct those behaviors which are the opposite of what we want them to become. And before anyone thinks to themselves “kids are kids, let them be kids”, I will add that it is never too early to start forming your child’s character. In fact, I assert that it is vitally important to do most of your character forming before the age of 3.
Now I do not mean that you should break your child’s will to be perfectly obedient with a tyrannically strict approach. No, that is not and will never be the right way to do it. All correcting should be done with love and patience, remembering that your child learns a lot from watching you. Instead, correcting must be highly consistent and structured coming from a place of trust. When a child can trust you not only to show them care and compassion but to show them love in correction, they will begin to blossom with honor and dignity.
Children feel the safest when they know what to expect from their day to day. That doesn’t mean that there is never a time for some spontaneity and adventure, but it does mean that for the most part when children know what comes next they are able to manage their expectations.
Children that live completely without structure have a difficult time honing developmental skills, using their creativity, organizing their thoughts, understanding their feelings, and learning to adjust their behavior. Therefore, as early as is possible, routine and predictability should be implemented into a child’s daily life. Allow me to clarify. Correction and consistency are equally important and we must do both to effectively correct a child. Correction happens when you are consistent.
Example: If your child hits you, and you know that you do not want them to do that (go with your gut on this one), not to you or anyone, then you must show them that you do not want them to do that. I do believe in being firm right from the get go. So you say a firm “no” ( I will write a blog post about the importance of the word “no” soon). It is so important for you to correct your child every single time they hit no matter what. It should not take more than one or two corrections if done properly, but you must tackle the behavior immediately the very first time. Then, because you were consistent and firm you should not see that behavior again, barring a few exceptions.
Note: This is crucial, your child will never learn anything about behaving if you do not teach them with the little things at home. If you wait until you are at a restaurant to correct your child for the first time, I promise you they will not care.
So I end here. Remember to think of the kind of humans you wish existed in the world and raise your children to be those wonderful people the planet needs so badly.
-The Common Sense Mama-