Parents often ask me how to help kids develop good values. Quite simply, kids learn what they live. Tomorrow is Earth Day, which would give us a perfect opportunity, if we weren't already so busy. Want to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem?
Ask the Child Psychologist
Talk explicitly about your values and why they are important to you. What IS integrity? Why is respectful behavior important in a church, synagogue or mosque? Helping children interpret the world is a crucial responsibility of parents.
But no one is born with good judgment and the ability to make wise decisions. Good judgment and decision-making skills develop from experience combined with reflection. Your goal is to give your child experience in making decisions, and make sure she has the opportunity to reflect on them and learn.
Ultimately, love is the only leverage we have with our children. Even if they worked, fear and "Because I say so!" only last for as long as they can be physically enforced. Every parent knows how fast children grow; fear works for a very short time if it works at all. Love, on the other hand, becomes a more effective motivator over time.
If your parents used spanking as a discipline method growing up, you may have reconciled yourself to their behavior by justifying it: You came out ok. You may even think there is no other choice for managing kids who are "a handful." How else do kids learn?
The most important qualities of a great parent? Not playing endless games, or making cookies, or coaching the soccer team. What makes a great parent is being fully present when you're with your kids. Loving and accepting your child 100%, exactly as he is; at the same time that you offer him inspiration and guidance to grow.
Most little ones between 12 and 24 months need 10-12 hours of sleep per night, plus a nap. But many parents find themselves faced with a baby or toddler who becomes increasingly resistant to bedtime and goes through a period of waking earlier and earlier in the morning. How to cope?
Tweens are emerging teens, but they're still children. They'll astonish you with their ability to conceptualize and argue brilliantly, and then to do foolish things. Parenting tweens is a challenge because the pressures of the peer group magnify, kids demand more independence, and hormones flare as puberty approaches.
We all want to raise responsible children. And we all want to live in a world where others have been raised to be responsible, a world where adults don't shrug off their responsibilities as citizens, even to the point of -- as my three-year-old once said -- ignoring their own messes.