How to raise a child to be confident and secure. Isn't that something we all want to be? It takes a few simple steps to encourage your teen to be the person you want them to be.
Create Family Rituals:Having special little customs gives you and your child an opportunity to connect, no matter what else is going on. Studies show that teens who know where they are going, know who they are.
When your child was smaller, cooking a simple meal together, watching a favorite program as a famly, planting a garden, playing a favorite board game -- these are the kinds of rituals that kids love.It doesn't really matter what your ritual is, as long as it's something you and your child both enjoy. It's important that you continue doing it, even when you're frustrated with your teen. This isn't a privilege that you take away as a punishment. It's something sacred that you do, every night or every week or every month, as a way to connect.
Know Your Child's Personality:The essence of being a great mom or dad is to really know your child's temperament and to tailor your parenting style to take that into account. Every kid is different -- even in the same family. If you understand each child's individual personality, and deal with that child in the way that suits him best, you'll minimize conflict.
Be A Good Role Model:Every night, parents should ask themselves, "If my child had only my behavior to learn from today, what would I have taught him?" Probably the most common mistake moms and dads make is that we say one thing and do another. We give our children lectures on self-control and patience, and then explode when we get caught in traffic. We tell them not to gossip, and then turn around and do just that. We urge them to be honest, then let an 11-year-old order from a menu for kids under 10.
That's not to say parents have to be perfect. But when we fall down on the job, we need kids to learn from our mistakes. If you lash out at your child when you're feeling stressed out, for example, you should go back later and say, "I was wrong for yelling at you that way. I should have stayed calmer. I'm sorry." By doing so, you're teaching your child the importance of respect and forgiveness. If you're dealing with a challenging situation, you need to let your child see you're doing your best to cope. When you acknowledge the difficulty ("We're all worried because Daddy has lost his job, but everything will be okay"), you're showing your child that you can manage tough times -- and that will help him learn to do the same.
*Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of Don't Give Me That Attitude!
Set Clear Limits:
Children thrive when they grow up in a home that has structure, limits, and rules. But many parents make the mistake of projecting their own feelings about rules onto their kids. As adults, we don't like people telling us what to do, and we think our children will react negatively to rules. But kids need parents who can impose limits -- and not back down from them.
I'm not saying to make rules just to prove you're the boss. It's important to set limits for a good reason and to explain them to your kids in a loving and caring way. But studies show that having rules and structure makes a child feel safe and secure and teaches self-control and self-reliance.
*Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., author of The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting
Be Your Child's Biggest Booster:The single most important thing you can do for your children is to let them know you're absolutely crazy about them. Tell them often that they are terrific. Say, "You are the best thing in my life." Research shows that these kinds of messages make kids resilient and help them deal with disappointment, rejection, and the other unpleasant stuff that life routinely hands out. Surprisingly, a lot of children don't know how much their moms and dads appreciate them, and that's because parents aren't getting the message across. Make a conscious effort to be positive -- even when you're setting limits. Instead of criticizing a kid for fighting with a sibling, for example, say something like, "I know that's not your best effort. I'm sure you love your brother a lot more than you're showing him now." That lets your child know you have faith in him, that you believe in him -- and what can beat that?
*Kyle D. Pruett, M.D., clinical professor at the Yale Child Study Center and School of Medicine, and author of Me, Myself, and I: How Children Build Their Sense of Self
Make Family Time a Priority:In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on keeping kids challenged -- and busy. We've become servants to our kids -- driving them here and there, scheduling our lives around their activities.
I think it's far more important to make family time your biggest priority than to cater to everybody's individual activities all the time. Eat dinner as a family, even if it means your child won't be able to make a soccer practice. Kids should carve out time for grandparents and other relatives too. Children also need lots of downtime when you can all just relax and be together as a family. Family bonds are an anchor for kids: Their activities will come and go, but family relationships will last a lifetime.