When asking parents the most important thing they want for their kids, what do you think is the most common answer? They want their kids to be happy. There’s no one perfect way to raise children, but as parents, we do our best to make sure our kids are well taken care of in all areas of life. Over two-thirds of adults in the United States say that the well-being of children is more important to them than other issues facing the country, including health care, the cost of living, and senior health.
Parents who provide their children with happiness, love, and encouragement give them confidence and the ability to reach their goals. Support, strength, and fun can help kids grow up with a great sense of self and compassion for those around them. Because we live in a “me, me, me” society, it’s essential for parents to guide their kids toward habits that promote empathy, generosity, and kindness. For advice on raising healthy, well-rounded children, keep reading!
1. Stick to the Basics
It’s true that there’s no one perfect formula for raising children. The fundamentals of child-rearing involve a few basic principles. The main rule of being a good parent is allowing secure and warm attachment with your children. Giving your kids the knowledge that their needs will be met as well as a place for comfort is essential.
As kids age, they’ll need a bit of freedom to make mistakes and discover their identities. By giving them a solid foundation, they’ll be able to explore in a safe and age-appropriate way. Connect with your children early on in their lives to foster a close relationship and earn their trust throughout their adolescence and beyond.
2. Be A Strong Role Model
One of the best ways to teach your kids about ethical values and behaviors is to be a good role model for them. By practicing fairness, caring, and honesty, children will learn the proper way to behave from an early age. It’s common for kids to look up to their parents and want to act like them, so keep that in mind.
Living a healthy life, working on self-improvement, and contributing to society are great ways to show your kids excellent habits. Being honest with them about your past, including mistakes, lets them see your strength and vulnerability. Even taking them to work opens their eyes to what you do and who you are. By being respectful, having a positive attitude, and listening to those around you, you can set an excellent example for your children.
3. Encourage Your Kids to Say Thank You
Kindness is key, and teaching your kids how to be polite from an early age is essential. By learning how to express gratitude, children grow up to be more helpful, compassionate, generous, and forgiving. It also leads to them being healthier and happier adults.
Teach your children to say thank you regularly. Whether it’s to family, friends, or people they meet, saying thank you frequently will make it second nature for your kid. Daily repetition will ensure that your child will always be able to be polite, reflect, and think of other people. By saying thank you, children work to acknowledge all of the people who impact their lives.
4. Put Fun Time on the Calendar
Finding time to have fun and connect with your children is imperative to building a healthy, long-lasting relationship. It allows you to treat your child with respect and care and teach them about it. The best way to do that is to choose a fun activity to do together. Choose something to do with your child and mark it on the calendar.
By scheduling a fun activity with your child and marking it on the calendar, you’ll show them that it’s just as important as a work meeting or other appointment. It also gives them something to look forward to in the future. Playing games, reading them a bedtime story, or making cookies can all be fun activities that don’t take up a considerable part of your day.
5. Motivate Your Children to Join a Cause
Find something that your child is passionate about and encourage them to join a cause. By getting involved in their community, children can learn how to work with others as well as the principles of loyalty, ethics, and fairness. Because many children are naturally curious about ethical questions, this allows them to explore ethical issues.
Please help your child find a cause that is related to an area they’re interested in or an issue that they face. Even better, join them in their cause! It will mean the world to your child if you march alongside them through their projects and support them whole-heartedly. This small step is a great way to learn more about your child’s life and what they’re going through.
6. Prioritize Caring for Others
It’s important for parents to teach their kids about caring for others. Unless we teach them, kids won’t realize that caring about other people will make them feel better. Please encourage them to learn more about current events, fairness, and justice. Teaching them more about ethical practices can help with this.
By learning how to do the right thing, prioritize commitments, and stand up for their values, children will grow up happier and more helpful. Parents should have high ethical standards and instill that into their kids. Showing them that you also care about others can help them do the same. Studies show that children who are raised to think about others end up being happier.
7. Talk About World Problems
Teaching kids to connect with their close family and friends is essential, but so is letting them know what’s going on in the world around them. By learning more about the big picture, they can develop concern for those in other communities and cultures. This behavior will allow your child to practice empathy and have an easier time interacting with people from different backgrounds.
Use newspapers and television broadcasts to get your kids interested in what’s going on around the world. Don’t be afraid to discuss global hardships with them. Ask them to think about what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Small moments like this can add up, creating a thoughtful, insightful child.
8. Slow Down
Life comes at your fast, but it’s important to take a breather every once in a while, especially when it comes to your kids. Children move at a slower pace than adults and are much more relaxed than us. Always running at lightning speed can cause your children to be unhappy and anxious.
Take a breather and slow down every once in a while for you and your kid’s sake. Take the time to schedule fun activities to do together. Even if it’s reading a book together or taking a trip to the grocery store, it can have a positive impact on your child. It’s a great way to take a hectic activity and create a meaningful memory with your child.
9. Teach Good Manners
Start early with teaching your child good manners. Learning how to say please and thank you are the fundamentals of good manners, as are greeting people properly and addressing elders politely. Teaching kids good manners from an early age will help them grow up into polite, caring adults.
Table manners are also essential to bestow on your children. They should know how to chew with their mouth closed, use utensils, and not talk with a mouth full of food. Once learned, these habits will stick with your child for life. People notice when kids are well-behaved and polite. It’s also wise to teach your children to play well with others and learn how to lose graciously.
10. Support Shyness
Many kids are shy and can carry that shyness with them throughout adulthood. It’s common for kids to be a little bashful, but once it becomes a behavioral issue, children are more prone to developing an anxiety disorder. Also, sheltering children who display behavioral inhibition could make their behavior worse.
To help a shy child, try to get them out of their comfort zone but don’t attempt to change their nature. Because shyness is a hard habit to break, don’t be too forceful. Acceptance is critical for helping your child feel confident and supported. If your child feels accepted by you, they will have an easier time working through their shyness.
11. Don’t Reward Them For Every Good Deed
While encouraging your kids is good, it’s essential to not use rewards on every excellent task they accomplish. That will teach your child only to do the right thing because they’ll get a prize. If a kid only associates volunteering with getting something in return, they’ll grow up to be spoiled and entitled.
Kids should know that dedicating their time and energy toward a good cause is a reward in itself. Occasional rewards are great and help keep kids motivated, but rewarding them each time they do something positive is not recommended. Give your children a special treat when they work hard, study hard, and help others. Getting a high GPA, raising money for charity, or helping with a major project around the house are great examples of significant accomplishments that deserve a reward.
12. Encourage Special Skills
Each child had a unique talent, and they will shine doing certain activities. It’s ideal for parents to help their children discover their passion and help them explore it. While many kids find their specialized skills in the classroom, others tend to excel in areas outside of school.
Finding activities like music lessons, dance classes, or a mommy-and-me playgroup can help your child flourish. If you’re interested in something that doesn’t cost money, unstructured play is a great option. Dancing around the house, playing catch in your backyard or making something in the kitchen can all assist with physical, intellectual, and personal development. Taking up a new hobby for yourself may help to inspire your child to find one too.
13. Encourage Friendships
While it’s crucial that your children be close to their family at home, having friends outside is essential. Fostering friendships early on can lead to lifelong connections and help with developing their social skills. It’s a way for kids to practice adult social skills in a safe setting.
Having friends from elementary school age through adolescence helps kids learn valuable skills. They’ll learn how to get along with their peers. Also, kids learn group planning, negotiating, and compromising. Being social with other children also allows you to find other parents to befriend. Connecting with other parents can give you additional support as well as something to do outside the home with your kids.
14. Eat Dinner Together
Even if your cooking skills aren’t Gordon Ramsay-level, you can still have a great family dinner every night! When it comes to suppertime, there’s so much more to focus on than the food. Instilling family values through conversation is one of the best things you can do at the dinner table.
By discussing informal topics and engaging your children, you’re letting your kids know that you’re interested in their lives. Children who eat dinner with their family at least five nights a week are reported to have higher grades and less of a chance of developing an eating disorder. If getting the whole family together for dinner isn’t possible, try to have breakfast, lunch, or a snack time together so you can discuss everyone’s events from throughout the day.
15. Nurture Empathy
One of the most fundamental traits in good people is empathy. Encouraging emotional intelligence and consideration of other people’s feelings can help a child grow. Success in life is due in part to a person’s ability to manage their emotions and have self-control.
Being able to talk about their feelings and work through conflict is essential. When your child disagrees with a friend, please help them to think about what the friend is going through and examine how their actions and emotions affect their friends. Learning how their temper affects others can help a child become more empathetic. Even a small act of kindness can instill empathy in a child.
16. Applaud and Praise Efforts
Research shows that a child’s mindset can affect their behavior. In terms of parenting, experts agree that instead of labeling your child as talented or smart, praise them for their hard work. It seems that a person with a fixed mindset is less likely to challenge themselves because they feel that their talents are from innate abilities.
If a child believes that their skills are developed from hard work, they are typically more likely to accept challenges. Additionally, these children will welcome a problem in the hopes that they will learn new skills. An inner drive for learning is the primary motivator for kids who are praised for their hard work.
17. Balance Bedtime
Every parent knows that getting their child to stick to a regular bedtime can be difficult. However, it’s crucial to establish a nighttime routine for your child to thrive. Choose a bedtime and stick to it every night, even on weekends.
If your child has a smartphone or tablet, take it away from them around a half an hour before bedtime. Over 60% of kids admit to using their electronic devices after lights out, so it’s best to take the computers instead of just turning them off. Studies show that losing just an hour of sleep can harm a child’s cognitive abilities. Experts say that if a sixth-grade student misses rest the night before a big test, they could perform at a grade level two years lower the following day.
18. Live in the Moment
Most adults are continually thinking and worried about the future. Where will I be? What will my kids be doing? Will we have financial stability? Will we be happy? Kids, especially preschoolers, are all about the present. To better connect with their kids, parents need to get better at living in the moment.
When it comes to communicating with your child, avoid speaking in terms of the future. Give them instructions that are easy to follow. Instead of saying something ambiguous like “It’s almost dinner time,” give them a simple command like “Wash your hands and sit at the table. It’s time to eat dinner.” Ultimately, this practice will help your kids listen better and follow instructions easier.
19. Encourage Your Kids to Lift Up Others
Teaching your kids about kindness is vital. It’s important to know that they must treat those around them with respect, especially their peers. Encouraging children to support their friends and classmates will help them be happier and expand their social skills. They can also learn a lot by helping with various activities around the community.
Besides, it’s good to inform your kids about negative occurrences like bullying and gossiping. If kids know the poor effects bullying has on their classmates, they can be a support system for their friends. Even something as simple as listening and hugging a friend when they’re sad can make a big difference.
20. Respect Different Learning Styles
All children learn a bit differently, and some adapt to school easier than others. Experts have discovered eight separate learning styles that a child could have. These styles include a logical-mathematical way, a linguistic way, a musical way, and an interpersonal way.
To determine what type of learning style best suits your child, pay attention to them while they study. If your child is a visual learner, make flashcards to help them learn multiplication tables. A child with interpersonal intelligence is great with people, so use people he knows to improve his vocabulary by assigning descriptive words to historical figures, relatives, and friends. Know that not all children take to school naturally, so be patient with your child on their journey to finding a studying style.
21. Give Hugs
Did you know that hugging your child throughout the day can give them a sense of love and security? Hugging eases a child’s tension and provides them with the human touch, which is necessary for a child to feel safe. With just a 20 second hug, a child can grow happier, smarter, healthier, and closer to their parent.
Children who are deprived of physical contact simply stop growing. Hugs release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes growth in the body. They are also good for emotional health. When a child throws a temper tantrum, they lose control of their emotions. Getting hugged by their parent can help regulate a child’s feelings and help them calm down. Hugs are also great for bonding with your child, boosting their self-esteem and making them more optimistic.
22. Read to Your Children
There’s no such thing as reading to your child too early! Keeping books at home and reading to your child as soon as preschool age can provide success in school in the future. It also encourages language development and gets them excited about reading.
If your child isn’t old enough to understand what you read to them, they can still identify the rhythms of language, which helps them to build a listening vocabulary. Also, reading to children helps improve their emotional intelligence. A recent study found that 5-year-old children who were read to daily ended up having fewer behavioral problems in school than those who were not. Take your child to the local library and have them select a few books that catch their eye so you can start getting them excited about reading.
23. Teach Your Kids to Volunteer
While you may be worried that introducing your child to the sufferings of others may be too intense, it can actually help them learn to be grateful for what they have. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, food bank, or animal shelter gives kids the opportunity to help others as well as be proud of being charitable with their time.
Volunteering to help those in need works to shape a child’s character. It makes them learn to think about the less fortunate. Children learn how to be compassionate, tolerant, and empathetic through volunteer work. Whether you’d like an ongoing volunteer project or a one-time activity, there are many options for getting your kids excited about volunteering. Try holding a bake sale to raise money for charity, visiting a nursing home or retirement community, or organizing a food drive with your children.
24. Don’t Be Shy About Discipline
When it comes to parenting, setting boundaries is vital. Not correcting the bad behavior of your kids can hurt them later in life. Undisciplined children grow up to be selfish, unpleasant, and unhappy. Most of the time, parents mean well by being relaxed with discipline, but not realizing how harmful they’re to their child.
Children who are given clear boundaries and told to follow the rules become more self-sufficient, make better choices, and have an easier time making friends. Not giving a child any boundaries or providing them with some, but not enforcing them results in poorly behaved children who are hard to control. When your child start to display behavioral problems like talking back or lying, approach them with love but firmness.
25. Treat Your Children with Kindness and Respect
It may seem obvious, but being kind to your child is the best way to teach them to be kind to others. Respecting your little one also makes them more willing to talk with you about what’s going on in their lives. Parents who use harsh tones with their children are less likely to have their child open up to them, especially as they grow up.
Children observe how their parents are with other people, so it’s good to speak with them in the same manner. Even if you’re upset with your child or are disciplining, avoid yelling or speaking in a nasty tone. Using respectful language and intonation, even when reprimanding your child, teaches them to act the same way when dealing with others and their parents.
26. Give Them Responsibilities at Home
Kids respond well to being tasked with responsibilities, especially at home. Create a list of age-appropriate chores at home that your kids know is their responsibility. By helping to sweep the floor or set the table for dinner, your children will feel like they are contributing to the household and helping to make things a bit easier for their parents. Giving them an incentive like a small allowance or toy can motivate them to help even more around the house.
Create an element of fun to get your kids ready to work. Make a chore wheel, so they get a new task each time. Pretend like you’re filming an infomercial and get action shots of them sweeping or mopping the floor. Chores are a way to teach kids that your family thrives on mutual obligations, and you all have to work as a team to keep the household running smoothly.
27. Limit Distractions
If you tend to take work calls or scroll through your email while hanging out with your kids, you may want to rethink that. Being distracted makes it hard to engage appropriately with your kids. You may not realize it, but your children can tell when you’re not entirely interested in what they’re doing while you’re hanging out.
While your kids don’t need your full attention 100% of the time, they need to know that their parents care. Being distracted gives your children the impression that you’re not really there for them like they want you to be. When playing with your kids, try to avoid looking at your phone or watching TV. Choose an activity that’s fun for the whole family like playing a board game, running around outside, or doing a puzzle.
28. Encourage Self-Compassion
While it may be hard to practice self-compassion, it’s important to instill it in your children. In the face of challenges, it helps us stay strong. The ability to remain mindful and manage thoughts and emotions without repression is learned at a young age.
As you are teaching your children to be empathetic, you can also teach them about being kind to themselves. They need to know that when going through a difficult time, it’s okay to be flawed and have negative thoughts and emotions. It’s not easy to go through, but we have to cut ourselves some slack from time to time. In today’s society, so many people put tons of pressure on themselves, especially for things out of their control. By giving children the tools to practice self-compassion, you can help them become more resilient, creative, successful, and energetic.
29. Navigate Through Their Feelings
Children have many emotions, and most of the time, they don’t know how to cope with them. By giving your children guidance on how to work through their feelings productively, you can reduce fussiness and bad attitudes. Overcoming emotions like envy, anger, or shame can help your child grow up to be more caring about themselves and others around them.
Start by teaching your child about the various feelings they are coping with at that time. Please help them to identify what they are feeling and figure out a resolution. Calmly work with them to train them through whatever issues they may be dealing with. Have them stop, take a deep breath through their nose and exhale through their mouth, then count to five. After calming down, sit with them and discuss the problem their having.
30. Focus on Your Mental Health
For kids to grow up well, their parents need to take care of themselves. Depression is common, especially for moms. Studies show that mothers with depression have parenting issues and display delayed responses to their baby’s crying. Children whose mothers have negative parenting styles tend to be more easily stressed out and struggle in school.
The best thing to do is talk to someone about the tough time you’re having. Whether it’s with your partner, doctor, or a counselor, let someone know that you need help. There’s nothing wrong with getting assistance, especially when it will benefit you and your child. Experts say that even when parents are struggling with their mental health it’s possible to teach them positive parenting techniques.