Five Simple Rules for Raising Good Kids
Be nice to your children.
When they emerge from the womb, they do not know how to act, so they will copy exactly what they see. Show 'em something nice.
Speak respectfully to your children.
They will speak to you the way you speak to them. Kids do not understand sarcasm. In fact, I don't really understand it either--I think sarcasm is just a way to be mean while pretending to be clever. Screaming doesn't make your point any clearer--it just makes it louder. Parenting by decibel is not a good choice.
Spend time with your children.
Lots of time. For years we have been hearing about "quality time." What your kids want is quantity time. That is the reason toddlers suddenly need you the moment you try to take a phone call or a nap or a bath. That's the reason they yell, "Hey, Mom, hey Mom, watch me!" at the pool. It doesn't matter if you are playing Candyland or chess, or carving pumpkins or just watching t.v. together. Just be there with them. Really be there--not looking at your e-mail or playing Angry Birds or leafing through a magazine. I know you're busy, but trust me--you'll be amazed at how much better their behavior will be if you are just present.
Tell your children the truth.
This is hard sometimes, so you have to start very early and make it a habit. You also have to have an arsenal of non-answers and be ready to use them. Say, "Y'know, I'm not ready to talk about that right now," or "Let me think about that for a minute." Don't make stuff up. Don't let them see you invent stories or excuses for your behavior or theirs. Remember, if you lie, they will lie.
Get control of your anger.
Kids can drive you absolutely crazy. When you are so frustrated that you feel you may lose your mind, leave the room. Just walk away. Exploding will not help the situation. Don't listen to that nonsense about "venting." Venting is just another excuse to be mean while pretending to be merely exasperated. You are the adult--don't say things that can't be unsaid and expect to fix it with an apology later. Remember, they will copy you.
Of course, you don't have to do these things. In fact, you absolutely should not do them unless you want to raise nice, respectful, even-tempered, truthful people who want to spend time with you.
Related post: Sibling Rivalry? Us?
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