Every responsible human being has acquired certain virtues useful in getting along with others. Topping the list are kindness, being responsible, friendliness, charity, honesty, trustworthiness, compassion and respect for others. All are reasonable and desirable tools for successful living. Thinking that the acquisition of these traits can be left to chance would be a big mistake.
The positive virtues mentioned above are not inherent; they must be nurtured, modeled and expected. How does a parent do this? I heard the following statement once: “Responsible parents are their children’s teachers. The parents lead and the children, as students, follow. Fun times are welcome; have fun along the way, but never at the expense of needed leadership”. This is quite a serious statement, but its message is bang on. I like to rephrase this message to sound more like this: “Responsible parents who care deeply about their children and society, love to have fun, act silly, participate in enjoyable family activities together and have an undeniable set of virtues that they not only state are important, but also model and allow their children to practice.”
If parents want to raise respectful, compassionate, friendly, charitable, trustworthy, and kind children then they must consistently, in as many ways possible, state the values or virtues they feel are important to them, model these virtues and provide opportunities for their children to practice using them.
For example, when a parent says, “We cooperate and do our part because we are a team”, they are stating a virtue. When a parents says, “We always go to the door to say hello when guests arrive”, they are also stating a virtue.
When a parent offers to help someone they are modelling a virtue. When a parent gets frustrated but utters, “Ärgh, there must be a way!” and then continues to work on the task until the desired outcome is achieved, they are also modelling a virtue.
When parents take their children to help pack food baskets at a homeless shelter they are allowing their children to practice the virtues they talk about and model. When parents tell their children that they will be the ones to answer the door to welcome the guests this evening they are also giving their children an opportunity to practice the virtues that they have spoken of and modeled.
Ask yourself and take time to reflect on the following questions:
What virtues do my partner and I value and expect in our family?
How do we model these virtues to our children?
How do we help our children practice these virtues?
If asked, would our children be able to state at least 3 virtues that we value?
Following this reflection, your answers will be your guide as to the next step to take.
This week’s video is all about the hidden benefits of being silly and what silly really looks and sounds like. I messed up, but I made it right to my son. How did I make it right to myself? I apologized to myself and then promised to listen to my heart instead of my head next time. Can you relate?
This week’s video will share with you how to get the joy back in parenthood. Don’t we all want to have fun with our kids most of the time and only have to discipline a little bit? The thing is, many parents think that to have this, it must be really difficult. In fact, the opposite is true! See what I mean by watching the video.
Do you ever feel like the only words that come out of your mouth are direct orders? “Empty the trash, be nice to your sister, quit jumping on the couch!!!” A big part of preventing bad behavior, however, is encouraging the good behavior when you see it.
And a quick “good job” doesn’t cut it—in fact, phrases like “good boy,” “you’re so smart!” and “you’re the best on your team!” are anything but encouraging. Instead of focusing on positive internal qualities, they put the emphasis on outward praise, which does nothing to promote good behavior in the future.
True encouragement focuses on the deed, not the doer. It motivates a child from the inside to demonstrate similar positive behavior in the future, and to value things like hard work, improvement, teamwork and perseverance.
Encouragement can be as simple as, “Thanks for your help!” or “You really worked hard!” Here are a few more examples to try around your house:
Thank you for your help!
You should be proud of yourself!
Look at your improvement!
That “A” reflects a lot of hard work!
You worked really hard to get this room clean!
Thanks for helping set the table, that made a big difference.
I noticed you were really patient with your little brother.
What do you think about it?
You seem to really enjoy science.
Your hard work paid off!
That’s a tough one, but you’ll figure it out.
Look how far you’ve come!
I trust your judgment.
The time you’re putting into your homework is really paying off.
I love being with you.
You really put a smile on her face with your kind words!
That’s coming along nicely!
You really worked it out!
That’s a very good observation.
Thank you for your cooperation.
I see a very thorough job!
That’s what we call perseverance!
I can tell you really care.
You make it look easy!
You’ve really got the hang of it!
I can tell you spent a lot of time thinking this through.
I really feel like a team when we work like this!
The best part about using encouragement with your kids is the glow of happiness you’ll see on their faces. After all, “Your hard work is really paying off!” says you noticed their work, while, “You’re so smart,” might be hard to live up to next time. Try a little encouragement with your kids, and watch their behavior—and effort—improve.
The one thing that everyone in my coaching group has said to me was, “You are so committed to your mission. Even though you have small children you made it here, all the way from the UK.” I told them that I am a mother yes, a very committed one, but I am also ERIN, and I have much to do on this earth.
With this topic in mind, I wanted to share with you a video that relates to this theme – it is actually one of my secrets to being a Stress-Fr.ee Parent. Ready to learn? Great! Watch now.