No one would argue that raising children of character demands time and effort. While having children may be doing what comes naturally, being a good parent is much more complicated. If you want to know how to raise a child, follow these steps.
Method 1 of 4: Developing a Healthy Routine
Put parenting first. This is hard to do in a world with so many competing demands. Good parents consciously plan and devote time to parenting. They make developing their child’s character their top priority. Once you're a parent, you have to learn to put your priorities below your children's, and to make the sacrifice to spending more of your day caring for them than you do caring for yourself. Of course, you shouldn't neglect yourself completely, but you should get accustomed to the idea of putting your child's needs first.
If you have a spouse, then you can take turns caring for the child so each of you can have some "me time." When you plan your weekly routine, your child's needs should be your primary focus.
Read to your child every day. Helping to nurture a love for the written word will help your child to develop a love for reading later on. Set a time for reading for your child every day -- typically around bed time or nap time. Spend at least half an hour to an hour reading to your child each day, if not more. Not only will your child develop a love for words, but your child will have a better chance of both academic and behavioral success. Studies show that children that were read to on a daily basis demonstrate less bad behavior in school.
Eat dinner as a family. One of the most dangerous trends in the modern family is the dying of the family meal. The dinner table is not only a place of sustenance and family business but also a place for the teaching and passing on of our values. Manners and rules are subtly absorbed over the table. Family mealtime should communicate and sustain ideals that children will draw on throughout their lives.
If your child is a picky eater, don't spend dinner time criticizing your child's eating habits and watching what he or she doesn't eat like a hawk. This will lead your child to have a negative association with family meals.
Get your child involved in the meal. Dinner will be more fun if your child "helps" you pick out food at the grocery store or helps you set up the table or to do small food-related tasks, such as washing the vegetables you will cook.
Keep dinner conversation open and light. Don't give your child the third-degree. Simply ask, "How was your day?"
Set a strict bedtime routine. Though your child doesn't have to go to bed during the same five-minute stretch every single night, you should set a bedtime routine that your child can follow and stick to it. Studies show that children's cognitive abilities can drop two full grade levels after just one missed hour of sleep, so it's important that they get as much rest as they can before you send them to school.
Your routine should include some winding-down time. Turn off the TV, music, or any electronics, and either talk to your child softly in bed or read to him.
Don't give your child sugary snacks right before bed or it'll be harder to get him to sleep.
Encourage your child to develop skills each week. Though you don't have to sign your child up for ten different activities each week, you should find at least one or two activities that your child loves to do and incorporate them into your child's weekly routine. This can be anything from soccer to art class -- it really doesn't matter, as long as your child shows a talent or a love for something. Tell your child what a great job he's doing and encourage him to keep going.
Taking your child to different lessons will also help him or her socialize with other children.
Don't get lazy. If your child complains that she doesn't want to go to piano lessons, but you know she likes it deep down, don't give in just because you don't feel like driving over there.
Give your child enough play time every day. "Play time" does not mean having your child sit in front of the TV and suck on a building block while you do the dishes. "Play time" means letting your child sit in his room or play area and to actively engage with stimulating toys while you help him explore their possibilities. Though you may be tired, it's important that you show your child the benefits of playing with his toys so he gets the stimulation he needs and so he learns to play with them on his own.
It doesn't matter if you don't have 80 million toys for your child to play with. It's the quality, not the quantity of the toys that counts. And you may find that your child's favorite toy of the month is an empty toilet paper roll.
Method 2 of 4: Loving Your Child
Learn to listen to your children. Influencing their lives is one of the greatest things you can do. It is easy to tune out our children, and a missed opportunity for meaningful guidance. If you never listen to your children and spend all of your time barking orders at them, they won't feel respected or cared for.
Being a new mother, I wasn’t sure what to do with my baby girl, Arwen, for the whole day. She is an alert child, and was quite active even as a small baby. For a couple of months I would put her on my hip and take her around the house with me throughout the day, but before long that had me bored, and unfulfilled in my care of her.
I was determined to ensure that my daughter would be smart and not behaviorally challenged. I read a few books on teaching children during what they call the “window of opportunity,” from ages 0-5. I was amazed to learn how parents can teach their children so many things, provided that they are consistent and use appealing methods. I began looking for materials with which to teach Arwen —flashcards, books, and other educational materials—and some materials I personally made.
I started teaching Arwen when she was three months old. After my initial fervor died, and I wasn’t seeing much progress as a result of what I was teaching her, I found myself discouraged. It seemed that she wasn’t reacting to the "schooling" I was giving her. I figured that perhaps she was too young to be learning words, numbers, and other things that I was trying to teach her.
However, I continued, and after a few months, I started noticing that she was responding positively to aspects of my teaching that she recognized, which I had repeated to her many times over. Then one day just before she was seven months, after having shown her flashcards for quite some time with no apparent results, I showed her the word “clap” and without me saying anything she clapped her hands. I was completely stunned. I had hoped my efforts would pay off, but actually witnessing her response was incredible, especially at such a young age.
Arwen is my first child, so every new venture in her progress is a wonderful experience for me. Perhaps I won’t be in such a perpetual state of elation with my next children, but for me this sign of progress was an encouragement to keep teaching her new things.
Now I try to turn everything into a learning experience. I’ve read that the best way to teach children, besides making learning fun, is to make their life a rich learning environment. And she expects me to! Every time I pass a poster or word that I have posted for her, she gets so excited and expects me to make a big deal out of it and explain it to her.
Sometimes I worry that I can’t keep up with her learning capacity, but I’m willing to keep trying to the best of my ability. I’ve experimented with ways to teach her things and have started to write them down in my notebook, so as to remember them for when she’s older. Here are some teaching opportunities I’ve been taking with her daily:
With the things I teach Arwen, I try to make learning fun, so that in the future she’ll look forward to her schooling as opposed to dreading it. Sometimes, however, she is not in the mood to learn, and wants to play by herself, which is also a part of her development, so I’m cautious to not overdo, and make sure I give her times when I’m not teaching her, too.
I hope these ideas can be helpful to other new moms who are maybe looking for ways to pour into their little ones while they’re still babies.
Article courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission.
When two of my grown children recently had their own first babies, it reconfirmed something I’d known for years: Parenthood brings out the best in people. New parents feel the impact immediately, both emotionally and physically—the love bond that happens at first sight and grows stronger by the day, and the interrupted sleep and other schedule and priority adjustments. But there are also subtler changes that others are usually the first to notice—that special glow that God reserves for new parents and the maturity that comes from stretching and sacrificing to meet their baby’s needs, for example.
There was a time when I was sure that bringing home a new baby would be my proudest moment, and it was each time. Now I would say that comes in a close second to becoming a grandparent, because each time that happens (I have 11 grandchildren) I’m doubly proud—proud of my new grandchild and proud of their
So now that you know I’m a grandfather, you may wonder what grandfatherly advice I might have for young parents, so I’ll tell you. Besides the usual “big three”—love your children unconditionally, tell them often that you love them, and make quality time with them your top priority—I think one of the best things parents can do is to let their children be themselves.
If you’re like most parents, you want your children to excel. It’s good to try to help them reach their full potential, but there is often a fine line between that and expecting too much of them or yourself. Neither you nor they are ever going to be perfect, so learn to celebrate the successes and not worry about the rest. Strive for love and trust rather than perfection, and you’ll form lifelong bonds that will keep you together through anything. Happy parenting! And for those doubly blessed, happy
Article courtesy of Activated magazine. Used with permission.