Good habits are important for kids to grow up with. Kids won’t model what they are told, but they will model the behaviors of those around them. If you want them to be kind, then show them kindness. If you want them to be responsible, show them what responsibility looks like and give them opportunity to practice. If you want your children to say no to peer pressure, then be careful not to pressure them into things at home. While parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, over time, you can give your kids the tools they need to succeed in life and model good habits when they grow up. Here are some tips to help you instill those habits at every age.
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Be a Good Role Model
Believe it or not, kids pay attention to what their parents do. It’s important that you don’t fall into the trap of telling your kids to do what you say, not what you do. The truth is that eventually, they will do what you do. For instance, if you want them to learn to have a healthy relationship with alcohol as they grow up, then you need to model healthy alcohol consumption. They are less likely to abuse alcohol if they don’t see you abusing it. If you want them to be forgiving, show them what it looks like to forgive. If you want them to be able to emotionally regulate themselves, then model that. As a parent, you get to be a good role model for them at each stage of their lives.
Listen Without Judgment
Listening can be hard when you are looking for opportunities to correct your children. Instead, learn to listen without interrupting and without judgment. For instance, your teen may want to tell you about a friend who has been drinking alcohol and thinks he or she needs help. The kind of help they can get at a residential teen treatment center, but all you are thinking is that they can never be friends with this person again. Suspend your judgment momentarily and lean into the conversation. Your child, even as a teen, may be exhibiting healthy behaviors in spite of their friend’s choices.
Teach Them About Dangerous Behaviors
Speaking of alcohol, teach them about dangerous behaviors when it comes to drinking. Help them to understand the dangers of drinking and driving, what happens if they drink too much, and how risky it is to be in these types of situations. Try not to be preachy with your kids, but give them the tools they need to stand up to peer pressure in dangerous situations like these. Help them to make wise choices by giving them the tools they need.
Let Them Experience Some Natural Consequences
While you may want your kids to get straight A’s, it’s important to let them experience some natural consequences. If they tell you they don’t have homework, when they do, then you don’t need to bail them out of the situation. While young kids may genuinely forget, and you can help them remember, as your kids get older, they may need to experience the occasional zero on an assignment because they didn’t prioritize it.
Give Your Kids Opportunities to Practice Life Skills
Life skills come in all forms. From cleaning up after themselves to learning how to change a tire, to learning how to budget and make grocery lists, there are plenty of life skills you should give your kids the opportunity to practice. If you want them to build good habits, let them clean their rooms to their liking. Let them do the dishes even if it’s not perfect. Give them a chance to create a meal plan and shop for food when they only have a set dollar amount for it.
Praise Them When They Do Something Right
As parents, we are often quick to correct when our kids do something wrong, but we are slow to praise them when they get it right. So switch it around. Be quick to praise and slow to punish. Give your kids grace and space to learn and they will build good habits for life. Help them learn from mistakes while they are still home with you.