How to Teach Your Child in a Positive Way
As a child growing up, my parents were the ones I turned to for everything. For comfort, for advice, for encouragement, for permission - you name it. As children, our parents are our rock. When you first learned to walk, who did you look to for help when you fell down? Who did you run to when you hurt yourself and just needed a kiss and a hug to make it all better? Most of us - if not all of us - will answer these questions with our parents and probably more specifically our mom. And now, we as mothers are on the parental side. We have the opportunity to be that same safe place for our children while at the same time instructing and edifying them.
But how can we do this?
I like to think back on the characteristics both my mom and my dad upheld to teach me and comfort me as a navigated through life's milestones. Those character attributes are what I want to strive to uphold for my son from now as he grows and learns as a baby and into the future as he matures and grows as a young man. I want to be the type of mom who is edifying. The kind of mom who builds her children up and nurtures them in a positive way to help them succeed.
1. Unconditional love and kindness
Above all, let the unconditional love you have for your little one shine through all your interactions with them.
Even when I messed up or misbehaved. Even when my parents were disappointed in my actions, they disciplined and guided me forward with love. Neither of my parents disciplined me without making it very clear before and after my punishment that they wanted to teach me the difference between right and wrong because they loved me and wanted to see me grow to make wise choices.
As mothers, we have the biggest opportunity to teach our children the type of love that never fades, no matter what may happen. We can show them how to love others and show kindness by first doing the same to them. We can edify and build our children up with a love so strong it can break down any obstacle that may arise.
My mom knew she wasn't perfect. She also knew I wasn't the perfect child. She knew that I would make mistakes navigating through life. Whether it was struggling to learn something in school or making some wrong choices, my mom guided me from a place of understanding. She'd ask questions to gain understanding of why I was doing what I was doing. She learned my behavior cues to better help her understand what I was feeling when I reacted in different scenarios. My mom almost always knew the deeper feelings that drove my actions and connected with them in understanding.
By remembering we are not perfect and have had our fair share of struggles, we can in turn strive to understand our children. Why are they struggling? What can I do to help them? What drives our child to act this way? Before reacting, we can take a moment to gain perspective of the situation so we can best teach our little ones.
What my parents expected of me, they expected of themselves. My son may be less than a year old right now, but what better time to work on holding myself to the same standard I expect from him as he gets older? It doesn't take long for a baby to learn from the example of his parents. Levi already watches my every move and soaks in all I do. I have the responsibility to not only teach him right and wrong with my words but also with my own actions. I have the job of showing him when and when not to do things by following the same guidelines I set for him.
While his talking and walking days seem far off right now, in reality they are right around the corner. My integrity and example will be the driving teacher to my child. Monkey see. Monkey do. Hang tight to your integrity, mama. Your baby is watching.
My dad always said to me, "I'm your number one fan." He made sure I knew he was in my corner. When I failed, he cheered me on to get back up and keep trying. When I succeeded, he made a huge deal out of it. He told me I could do anything I set my mind to. His encouragement wasn't only for achieving great grades or winning a basketball game, either. It was also for making smart life choices and for sticking to my morals. He made a big deal when I said no to friends trying to sway me in wrong directions. He constantly encouraged me to strive to be a better person.
Our kids look to us for support and strength to keep going. In any area of life, our encouragement will teach them to push through hard times, to hold onto their standards, to rise back up when they fall, and in turn to be encouraging to others along the way. Tell your baby they can do it, the more encouragement they get from us, the more willing they'll be to keep going and to keep learning.
Parenting is not going to be easy. Teaching my son will take work. As a four month old, he already excels in some areas and struggles in others. He already looks to me for answers and for security. And he'll only look to me more as he grows. He'll begin to ask questions and test boundaries. Your kids will do the same with you. So hold tight to these attributes and seek out others that will aid you in becoming the best mama you can be for your family.