Wanting the best for your children is a universal goal for all good parents. The best home, the best upbringing, the best school, the best life… Great parents simply want their children to have the optimum chance of success. Regardless of outside influences, all parents can instil values in their children to ensure they grow up to be healthy, responsible, successful adults.
1. Teach respect
Parents should instil a sense of respect in their children. Not just respect for all human beings and living things (although this is obviously important), but respect for everything in the world. Parents should show their children the value of respect as well; you earn respect by giving it out unconditionally. Teaching children to respect all aspects of life leads them to appreciate everything they have, and to learn the value of working to earn more.
2. Teach tolerance
Children need to learn how to tolerate all other human beings on the planet. It does no good to look down on others; rather children should learn to help their fellow man when in need – since they may find themselves in need of help one day. Also, children should learn to tolerate those who have wronged them, and learn to understand why this may be (such as the bully who takes lunch money from others because his mom can’t afford to pack a lunch for him at all). There are things in this world that cannot be changed, and children that learn this will learn how to deal with these situations as best they can whenever they arise.
3. Teach responsibility
Parents should teach their children how to be responsible for their actions. It’s important for them to understand that what they do or say has far-reaching consequences, and whether or not these consequences are positive are negative is up to them. By going easy on your children when they do wrong, you ultimately are doing a disservice to them. It may be hard to discipline them, but keep the long run in mind. As adults, their actions will have much more serious consequences if they do wrong. On the other hand, teaching your children that positive actions result in positive rewards will put them on the path to success.
4. Teach self-control
Children who learn how to control themselves will quickly become independent adults. Children who constantly have to be told to do their homework or clean their room rather than doing it on their own will eventually get lost when they find themselves living alone for the first time. Children should learn money management at a young age, and learn how to prioritize their resources (including their time), so when their parents are no longer around, they are not left wandering aimlessly. Keeping control during extraordinarily tough times is also important, so they do not dig themselves into a deeper hole by acting in a way that negatively affects them and those around them.
5. Teach honesty
Children need to learn to be honest, with others and with themselves. An honest child will grow into a trustworthy adult whose career will flourish. It’s incredibly important to instil in children the idea that, even if they do something they weren’t supposed to, it’s better to tell the truth about it rather than lie to avoid punishment. Children will make mistakes, but lying is not a mistake – it’s a conscious effort to outsmart an elder, which is disrespectful on many levels. Children should also be honest with themselves to continue improving on a daily basis. As they become more independent, they must be able to honestly look at aspects of their lives and analyze their choices. By being honest with themselves, children will continue to grow long after their parents can help them.
6. Teach integrity
Having a high-paying job, a huge mansion, and beautiful sports car means absolutely nothing if they were gained through ill-gotten ways. On the other hand, having a modest home, a car that gets you from A to B, and a job that pays the bills is a true picture of success when it was earned through hard work and dedication. Children need to learn the difference between society’s vision of success and their own. Just like they need to learn to be honest even when they know they’ll get away with lying, children also need to learn to have integrity; they must always do what’s right, even when no one’s around. Whether or not you instil religious beliefs in them, teach your children the value of the angel on their shoulders, and how to squash the proverbial devil on the other.
7. Teach perseverance
So many children are so scared of not doing well that they never try. This applies to homework, tests, new hobbies, asking girls out, applying for a first job… kids are much more scared of the world than you think. Teach your kids that it’s totally okay to fail. What isn’t okay is letting life pass you by without ever trying. Be there to catch your children when they fall. Help them get up, dust them off, and throw them back into the fray. They need to know that failure is not the end of something, but is one of the many pathways to success. Their dream life will never simply “come true,” but they can earn it with hard work and perseverance.
8. Teach gratitude
Teach your children to be grateful each and every day, for the things they have, and the people who care about them. Show them how to give thanks, such as doing chores without being asked, spending time with a relative, or writing a thank you note to a teacher for no special reason other than to give them credit for the hard work they do. Being grateful reinforces the idea that each of us has a civic duty to one another. Children who understand this will grow to be an integral part of their community, and will be valued by society since they are always focused on what they can do to help others.
9. Teach life skills
In between instilling values and teaching life lessons, parents also must remember to teach life skills to their children. Teach them how to wash dishes, clean the bathroom, mow the lawn, change a tire, or use a snow plow. Make them do it, so they aren’t hit with the shock of having to do it all when they (finally!) move out. Teach them to make a list of errands to do on a daily basis, so even when they “don’t have anything to do,” there’s still ways they can improve their lives. They might resent you for the time being while you’re showing them how to unclog a sink and their friends are outside playing, but they will appreciate it when they don’t have to call a plumber every few weeks when they own their own home.
10. Be a role model
Absolutely none of this can be done if you, as the parent, don’t model it for them. “Do as I say, not as I do” does not work (because the second you’re not around, they’ll be doing whatever they want). Be the person you want your child to be. In fact, be a better person than you’ve ever been in your life, if only for the benefit of your children. It is definitely hard work, but raising a model citizen is the most rewarding thing you can possibly do to boost your own confidence. Raising a child that can go out and make something of himself independently is the true definition of success.
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