Children rarely succeed on their own. They get most of their direction from you, their parent. Sure, teens, in particular, are influenced by other teens. And teachers and other family members play a big role too. But you’re number one!
They learn how to become responsible, how to follow rules, even how to make decisions from you. Follow these seven strategies, and you’re on your way to helping your children be successful at school and in all areas of their lives.
1. Use your P’s correctly. Parent and praise, not police and patrol. Be sure that your child’s emotional as well as physical needs are met. Too much policing and patrolling encourages children to lie and cheat in order to avoid punishment and criticism.
2. Get involved, but not over-involved, in your child’s education. By being involved, you are telling your child that you care about him, that she is important to you. When to help and when not to help is a fine line. Before you jump in, pause and ask yourself if your child really needs help right now? Accept your child’s best rather than how much better it might have been if you had helped. Teachers appreciate your involvement. They do not appreciate your over-involvement. Don’t be a helicopter parent hovering over your child’s every move.
3. Establish general rules that are realistic and fair to you and your children. Rules need to have logical reasons behind them, even when children don’t understand them. Children want boundaries. They want to know what they can and can’t do and what the consequences will be if they break a rule. Rules and boundaries help them feel safe and loved. Rules for the sake of rules, however, don’t help.
4. Teach trust. Children need to learn to trust their parents. If you want your child to trust you, it has to be clear to her, from her earliest school experiences, that you and her teachers are on her team. That you will not lie to her and that you will follow through on promises.
5. Provide opportunities for your child to make decisions. Learning to identify and evaluate options allows children to make effective, wise decisions. Learning how to make good decisions gives children control over their lives. This includes allowing your child to make minor decisions you don’t agree with as long as they don’t put him in dangerous or illegal situations.
Allow children to make decisions that are wrong. If your child decides to wear something to school that you both know is against school rules, allow him to make this decision and to suffer the consequences. Children learn from mistakes. After it’s all over, “I told you so” is not an appropriate response from you. Saying something like “Maybe it would be a good idea just to wear that t-shirt on the weekends. What do you think?” is a better comment.
6. Help your child set goals. Goals are like rudders. Realistic short and long term goals are the rudders that give children a sense of purpose. Help your child set goals that they can achieve and within a reasonable time frame. Children, without help in goal setting, often set very unrealistic goals and then fail. As a parent, help your child become a strong navigator.
7. Promote a sense of responsibility by helping your child learn to accept responsibility. By being responsible, she will gain self-confidence and self-worth. This requires that you avoid setting standards she can’t reach. Remind yourself that your child needs lots of support, not punishment, to become responsible. Many children appear irresponsible when, in fact, physical, emotional or social barriers may prevent them from succeeding at home and in school.
So it’s time now to praise your kids, get involved, and set some rules. Good parenting requires it.
What’s your parenting style? Let us know. We always love to get your comments.