Your children are your world. Your pride and joy. Your reason for living. Of course, you want to teach them as much as you possibly can about how to navigate their way through this thing we call “life.” Part of our jobs as parents includes teaching our children to make good choices so they can stay on a healthy path, and nothing would make you prouder as a parent than watching your little ones grow into confident, successful, healthy and happy adults.
Here are a few important skills that you can start teaching your children today:
Coping skills are important to your child’s emotional and mental health. When it comes to teaching these skills to your child, a good place to start is by helping them learn to identify how he or she feels by giving names to emotions.
If you notice your child is emotional, ask probing questions such as: “How are you feeling right now? What do you think caused you to feel that way?” Be sure to offer guidance, if needed. It’s okay to use a visual chart for children who struggle to talk about emotions, or to offer words like “happy,” “sad” or “angry” if your child seems to be struggling to think of words.
When your child is upset, teach skills for refocusing on activities that he or she enjoys. Painting, drawing, riding a bike, and other calming activities work best here. Over time, as you redirect your child to these activities when he or she is upset, your child will eventually learn to use these activities as healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.
Get your child involved in grocery shopping by taking them with you and allowing them to provide input on which fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods they’d like you to purchase for weekly meals. You can even make a game out of it. For a bit of added family fun, you can begin teaching meal preparation skills to children as young as 5 to 10 years old. Start with simple, healthy foods such as sandwiches and smoothies, and work your way up slowly from there.
Model Desired Behavior
One of the greatest parenting lessons my husband and I have learned through our Bible studies has been to lead by example (1 Corinthians 11:1; Titus 2:1-10). Children are likely to parrot their parents’ behavior, and if you want your child to be courteous and show empathy and kindness to others, it starts at home. Be mindful of how you engage with others, whether it’s at church, the grocery store, or even in the car. You want your children to see you “walk the talk.”
There are a lot of temptations in this world, and life never comes with guarantees. Luckily for all of us, you don’t have to be a perfect parent to be a good parent. Good parenting is an important first step that teaches lifelong lessons to help keep your children on the right track. And who knows? Maybe your children will continue passing those skills onto children of their own one day.
Laura Pearson, a former teacher, believes that every student has great potential and aims to help as many as possible unlock it. Laura wants to help bright young minds that don’t feel engaged in the traditional classroom setting. She lives in Delaware with her husband, son, and two daughters.