When you make the decision to become a parent, you commit yourself to a lifelong journey of love and nurturing. Parents are tasked with one of the greatest but hardest jobs on the planet–raising the next generation to become good people with big hearts and strong character.
Here’s 5 simple ways to raise kids with strong character.
1. Examine your own beliefs and then share them. What values are important to you that you hope to pass on to your children? Take the time to be clear about what you believe in and then share your beliefs with your children regularly. Create the time and space for these types of meaningful conversations during dinner time, bedtime or any other quiet time that you are together as a family.
2. Post family rules. We have a list of rules posted in our kitchen that our older daughter wrote down after we discussed the kinds of rules we wanted to establish for our family. Families are a team and when the rules are clear, it’s easier to reinforce positive behavior and to correct misbehavior. We frame our rules in a positive tone–i.e. “be gentle with your words, hands and feet” instead of “no hitting or put downs.”
3. Have high expectations! Kids learn to rise to the occasion. When we set high expectations for our own behavior as adults, we are setting the bar high for our kids. If we hope our children will grow up to be kind, then we need to be kind ourselves! Children look up to their parents and to the way we lead our lives. If we want our children to have a strong work ethic, to show empathy toward others, to have good manners and to be compassionate, then we have to model these character traits ourselves.
4. Reinforce positive behaviors. In education and parenting circles, we call it a “teachable moment” when you catch a child in the act of doing something positive. Verbally acknowledge your child’s good choices or behavior. Explicitly state what he or she did right and why you appreciate it.
5. Teach your children the Golden Rule–treat others as you want to be treated. Make this rule your family’s over-arching principle. These timeless words of wisdom will stick in your child’s mind and influence their behavior and actions for a lifetime.