The family is the basic unit of society. Contrary to popular belief, kids learn more from their families than from school, as the family is the first and default set of teachers that every child has. We want to help parents become better moms and dads so we sat down and did some research with relationship expert and child book author Maribel Dionisio, MA on three things that great parents do to raise great kids:
1. Spend one-on-one time with each child
Nowadays, everyone is busy. With bumper-to-bumper traffic, a phone that never stops buzzing, endless emails, and challenges in life and work, it’s easy to forget that parents need to spend one-on-one time with their children. Yes, you heard it right – One. On. One.
Why is this important? In families with multiple kids, especially those who are close in age, kids will tend to compete for their parents’ attention. If they don’t fight for a parent’s time, then siblings fight each other for the littlest of things – where to eat, who gets the biggest piece, who sits in the front seat of the car, etc. The list is endless.
Remember the last time you had a one-on-one with your best friend where you were able to connect and talk really well? Wasn’t that nice? The same is true for parent-child relationships. Real quality time wouldn’t work if there was a 3rd person. It’s rare in big families for a child to have deliberate, one-on-one time with mom or dad. Someone is always fighting for their attention. So when it does happen, it’s a treat.
Maribel used to make sure to have one-on-one time with her sons as often as every week. She would pick-up one child from school and would take him out for a snack with a P50 budget. (She was also teaching them financial management in the process). Her husband Allan would take out each son for a hotdog sandwich or burger on Saturday mornings. No matter how simple the date was, it provided each child an avenue to have their mom or dad’s full attention. The result was better connections with each child and less fighting or envy among siblings.
2. Listen without judging
Being present physically is different from listening and being emotionally present and supportive. As adults, we often forget what it’s like to be a child. We’ve grown accustomed to multi-tasking — texting or browsing through something while talking to colleagues, employees, and even friends.
Talking to a child is simple – give them your full attention because they can tell when they don’t have it. Kids naturally want someone to listen to them and to be interested in what they are doing. Connecting with your child means listening to them and making them feel that you heard and understood them – regardless of what they did. Specifically, if a child likes something – he or she will do it again and again.
If a child watches a movie for the 10th time or plays a game for the 10th time, kids will not appreciate comments like – “you watched that again?!” or “Don’t you get bored doing that?” instead they will appreciate comments like “Wow you’ve watched/done this activity so often! You really like it huh? What is the best part about this movie/activity?.” As with all adult relationships, asking follow up questions about a child’s interest helps build the bond and this is best done right after the activity.
3. Teach them about natural and logical consequences
Children ages 0-12 are at the age where they are trying to explore boundaries and rules. Their appreciation of the world is growing and as they grow, they will eventually learn about limits and rules about what is legal or illegal, appropriate or inappropriate. When a child crosses the line, rather than punishing them, parents should explain to kids early on that for every action, there is a reaction and reason for that reaction.
If a child hits his or her playmate, then they are separated immediately. The offender is made to play on his or her own and is also separated from toys and other things that are fun. Why? This is the consequence of inappropriate behavior.
If a child lends or shares a toy with another child, then the 2nd child may share or lend back with the first, as an act of reciprocation. This is again the natural reaction or consequence (albeit a good one).
There are many things that we want are our kids to learn, and these 3 are just some of the things that parents do to help raise independent and confident children. If you have comments or suggestions please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear from you as we believe in raising a generation of heroes and changemakers starts with children. We support and provide avenues for kids to learn and grow through our Junior Heroes Camps that take place at GK Enchanted Farm every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month.