How to Raise Smarter, Happier Children

Children have never been perfect at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them.

 

1.  Walk the talk — always set a great example.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you live your life every day.  Don’t tell your children how to live; LIVE and let them watch you.  Practice what you preach or don’t preach at all.  Walk the talk.  Your children look up to you and they will emulate your actions and strive to become who you are.

So BE who you want them to be.

In other words, be the change you want to see in your child.  Give what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, and mirror what you admire.  Every single day.

Your children are the greatest gift life will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility it will place in your hands.  Take time with them, and teach them to have faith in themselves by being a person they can have faith in ..... a person they can trust without question.  When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.

2.  Reduce YOUR stress level in the household.

Not easy, I know, but believe it or not what children want from their parents more than anything else is for them to be happier and less stressed.

3.  Believe in your children.

The greatest compliment you can give to a child is to believe in them and let them know you care.  When you see something true, good and beautiful in them, don’t hesitate to express your admiration.  When you see something that is not true, good and beautiful in them, don’t neglect to give them your wholehearted assistance and guidance.

The simple act of believing that your child is capable and worthy makes a big difference.  It gives them confidence and makes them feel qualified to do great things.

4.  Praise your children for their effort, not their intelligence.

Based on the point above, this might sound a bit counter intuitive, but when you praise a child’s efforts you are bringing attention to something they can easily control — the amount of effort they put in.  This is immensely important because it teaches them to persist, and that personal growth through hard work is possible.  They come to see themselves as “in control” of their success in life.

Emphasizing God-given intelligence takes progress out of your child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.  In turn, your child may begin to think that innate intelligence is always going to be a missing ingredient for them, and disregard the importance of their effort to learn and grow. With that said, a word to the wise: Don’t over-praise your children for no reason.  Make sure your gestures of praise are warranted.  Because if every single move your child makes is based only on rewards like constant praise, when the praise stops, the effort stops too.  And that’s not good because it means they won’t be able to perform well when you’re not around.

5.  Don’t read TO your children, read WITH them.

Got a youngster who’s learning to read?  Don’t let them just stare at the pictures in a book while you do all the work by reading every word to them.  Instead, call attention to the words.  Point to them.  Point to the pictures that illustrate them.

Read WITH them, not to them.

Research shows this tactic helps build a child’s reading comprehension.  When shared book reading is enriched with explicit attention to the development of a child’s reading skills, it truly becomes an effective vehicle for promoting early literacy.  Perhaps even more importantly than that, it makes learning more fun.  And as you know, fun times are happy times in a child’s mind.

6.  Eat dinner together as a family.

Eating dinner together makes a difference. Research suggests that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem in the long run.  Even if eating dinner together every night isn’t possible, you should make it a point to eat together as a family at least once a week.

Even if eating dinner together every night isn’t possible, you should make it a point to eat together as a family at least once a week.

7.  Create logical, reasonable rules and boundaries for your children.

Children don’t do well in a free-for-all environment.  It’s a myth that being too strict guarantees rebellion and being permissive drives better behavior.  From the research we’ve done, it’s clear that children who go crazy and get in trouble mostly have parents who don’t set reasonable rules and boundaries.  If their parents are loving and accepting no matter what they do — even when they are unruly — children take their parent’s lack of rules as a sign that they don’t really care about them — that they don’t really want the job of being parents in the first place.

On the flip side, parents who are consistent in enforcing rules and boundaries are often the same parents who become the closest with their children. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should over-do the rules, or make rules just for the sake of making rules.  Parents that are too controlling raise children that are stifled and bored.  And stifled, bored kids are likely to rebel.

 

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