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12 principles to raise your kids into happy adults

Posted February 1

Parenting can be an overwhelming job. As parents we just want our kids to be happy so they can grow into happy adults. Here are 12 basic principals that all parents can do even when the job gets tough. (Deseret Photo)

As parents sometimes it is all too easy to get lost in the trees and totally forget about the forest. Our goal is to raise happy, successful adults. But that can feel overwhelming at times, so here is a breakdown of some principles to set our goals to while raising well-rounded kids.

1. Encourage natural skills

Everyone has something that comes naturally to them and we want to encourage these unique skills in order to build self-esteem and a feeling of self-mastery.

2. Praise efforts

The best way to learn is to fail, but in today's society we are afraid to fail. So as a parent we need to praise our children’s efforts in order to teach them resilience and determination. Success and failure should be judged by their efforts, not the end result. Carol Dwek, Ph.D., of the Learning Support Services, discusses that the "Fixed Mindset" avoids challenges, whereas the "Growth Mindset" embraces challenges. We need to embrace new difficult tasks in order to grow.

3. Different learning styles

As parents we need to know and embrace the many learning styles that our children may have. David Kolb developed a model of the different learning styles that include: Spatial, Auditory/Musical, Verbal, Physical, Logical, Social and Solitary. Help your child find their style and run with it.

4. Read

Read all the time — read to them, with them, and have them read to you. This is an excellent way to spread knowledge, invite discussion and explore new ideas.

5. Eat together

It seems that eating dinner together is a lost pastime, but it is important to bring it back. Settling down for a relaxing evening meal is the perfect time to ask how everyone's day was. It’s important to take time each day to reconnect with each other, so if something distressing happens to your children they have a safe place to share and gain insights.

6. Routine and sleep

Routine is a good facilitator in progressing towards goals and understanding time management. Both are excellent tools they will need as adults. As far as sleep goes, it is extremely important to get enough rest so our brains can processes the many things we learn throughout the day.

7. Love

Love is not only hugs and caring, but also being open and showing emotions. This is the best way to show your kids how to connect with others, which is vital for future healthy relationship expectations. In fact, nurturing parents have been shown to create adaptive kids, according to J. Luby, MD, which is an imperative skill as an adult.

8. Work hard

Everything in life worth doing requires hard work. As you strive to be a better parent, spouse, friend and so on, you are modeling perseverance to your children.

9. Their happiness

Don’t try to make them happy by making everyday exciting with endless toys and candy. Everyone, including your children, needs to figure out what happiness is for them. Enjoy who they are and who they are becoming while giving them time to figure out life and happiness.

10. Responsibility

Nothing makes you feel important and builds self-worth like true responsibility. Children are no different. As you give them tasks that contribute to the family, they build life skills and a positive self view. Leary, R. & Baumeister discusses how self-esteem is a person's appraisal of their value within their community. Therefore, the more valuable they feel, the higher their self-esteem was reported.

11. Be thankful

Make sure to take the time to thank each other for all the little aspects they contribute too. This is also important in the outside world as it shows gratitude for the people in our community and spreads a feeling of belonging.

12. Emotionally in tune

Try to understand what is internally going on with your children. The key to this is trying to see the situation from their point of view and considering their opinions. It shows that sharing emotions is healthy and how to show respect for people with different opinions.

Most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself and enjoy the adventure of raising your children. There will be good times and bad times alike, so just try your very best and you will do great.

Jessie Shepherd, MA, LCMHC is a Mental Health Therapist at Blue Clover Therapy, LLC in Utah. She also has a blog called 'Jessie the Therapist'. Learn more at blueclovertherapy.com & jessiethetherapist.com

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