5 Tips to Raise Great Kids
From parents who seemed to be doing it right.
There are those families who we all look up to. Even though it’s true that we never know what goes on behind closed doors, still, there are those parents who seem to have a handle on this thing called parenting.
Whenever I meet them, I ask them what they think they’re doing right. Here are some ideas that were gleaned from my impromptu interviews:
1. Love, Attention and Date Night for Kids:
Children need their parents’ attention and love; it is critical to their growth and development. They will try to get it any way they can. So if a parent is not paying attention to them or giving them enough love, they’ll resort to getting negative.
One mom instituted date night – for kids. Every week, she and her husband take one child out for ice cream. They have six children; every six weeks they each get their turn. This is meaningful for both parents and the child. A little quiet time, some loving attention and ice cream.
Not everyone can do that. Don’t worry. Ten minutes a day of your undivided attention will make a huge difference in their lives. Don’t forget the basics, how important it is to be there when your kids get off to school, when they come home, and tuck them in at night.
2. Foster Autonomy:
This is a hard one in this day and age when it doesn’t seem safe to send our kids out the door. However, it’s essential to find ways to help our kids grow to be independent. One day they will leave the nest and they’ll need to stand on their own two feet.
One father I know does woodworking projects with his son, picking out the project and making a list of what they need. His son goes to the store and speaks to the store reps about his project and what they would suggest. Then they work together to on the project, with the father asking him, “Well, how should work this? What would be the best way to do this?”
These little projects not only help them spend time together, they increase his child’s self-confidence and sense of independence.
Children love to play and they love when their parents play with them. The benefits of play are manifold. It helps parents and kids bond and connect. Play reduces tension, bringing laughter instead of frustration. Kids are much more likely to cooperate when they are asked to do things in playful ways.
One mom who has two left feet discovered kickball as a great game to play with her three rambunctious boys. She realized that in order to connect with her boys she needed to play something that involved a ball. They all love it and it’s simple enough for non-athletes like her.
4. Family Dinner:
The importance of family dinners cannot be stressed enough. Kids who eat with their family have better academic performance, higher self-esteem, greater sense of resilience, lower risk of substance abuse, depression, obesity and lowered, likelihood of developing eating disorders.
In modern times, it is really difficult to sit down together for a meal. However, one mother I know made this sacred. Her husband who has a very intense job makes it a point to be home from 6-6:30 no matter what, thanks to his wife’s insistence. He can then retreat to his home office or go back to work. As the years have gone by, he is grateful to his wife. He feels he would not have had the same connection or strong bonds to his children (and his wife) if he didn’t have those 30 minutes a day with his family.
5. Focus on Solutions:
Children who are taught to problem solve and look for solutions to their problems instead of complaining and creating drama feel good about themselves. They tend to be calmer and more resourceful.
One Mom tries to ask her children’s opinions on household matters. For example:
- “We are having your cousins over, do you think they would like to sleep in the guest room or camp out with you?”
- “We are having guests this Shabbos. They have little kids. What kinds of foods do you think they will like? What should we make for them?”
And the kids have some really great ideas and insights!
Ask parents who you respect for their tips on how to raise great kids. You’ll discover some great ideas to help you create a warm and loving family.