Holding your child accountable gives them strength and capability to live well in the world.
Psychologist Dr John Rosemond's book, New Parent Power!, is an excellent guide for parents wanting to raise responsible children.
The parents are in charge of setting the boundaries for their child's life.
Dr Chris Baker's book, REAL, is an excellent guide for living a health and productive life, including wise advice for parenting.
Self-discipline, respectfulness and responsibility help lead a child to live a productive life of accomplishment
Holding your child accountable (responsible) gives them strength and capability to live well in the world. BUT - IT’S HARDER TO TEACH THEM RESPONSIBILITY, than to do things yourself. Yet, it is worth it!! Here are some important ways to raise a responsible young adult, beginning in toddler-hood.
ONE: It’s easier to pick up after your children than to have them do it. Resist doing that.
Teach them that after playtime is clean up time. Teach them that after meals is clean up time and they are responsible until it’s complete.
No more dishes put into the sink for you to clean. No more leaving the kitchen before all clean up is finished. A toddler can happily sit on the counter after she finishes what she can do, as you finish up what you need to do. You are teaching her what is entailed in the after-meal time, and she will want to help more and more. That’s what toddlers do! Take advantage.
Teach your children now, before they expect NOT to participate in clean-up.
TWO: Never allow your children to speak disrespectfully to you.
Your child needs the security of your being in charge. As he/she learns to be respectful to you, his future is brighter - better jobs, better relationships, better life. It’s hard to imagine that precious baby becoming a master manipulator, but indeed, they quickly learn what makes you give in.
“Mommy, I hate you!”
Whoa - those words lay you back! You are stymied, paralyzed.
'If my child hates me, then I am really worthless, right?' WRONG!
If your child learns those words work to get him what he wants, then we are harming his character. Words that sink your heart are just words. They are your child’s attempt to get his/her way. Truly!
THREE: You are in charge of setting the boundaries for your child’s life.
You decide the boundaries of what they wear, what they do, what music they listen to, what and how much screen time they get, if any. (The studies are coming out faster and faster showing how damaging screens are for children and teenagers' brain development and ability to cope with life and future happiness.)
It’s right to say, “No, you may not have that child over (or spend time with) - we don’t like those people,” and, “No, we will not spend money on that.”
This is how character is developed. This is how a child learns what is right. These child-raising boundaries give your child the best chance possible.
FOUR: Teach them dropping out is not an option.
If a child wants to “quit” his karate lessons, piano lessons, soccer team, and so on, find out why. Most likely they just don’t “feel like” putting forth the effort.
It is a valuable life lesson to “never give up.” Plus, these activities have been shown in studies to help them do better academically. Unless your child is burdened with TOO MANY ACTIVITIES, keep the activity up! Keep taking them to the activity! You are forming character, intelligence and coping!
FIVE: A child being rude or behaving badly is a child behaving as a spoiled brat.
Do not allow a child to practice spoiled-brat behavior. The younger your child is, the easier it is to teach polite and gracious behavior. If you say, “thank you,” your child will follow suit. If your child has just demanded something in a rude way, you can have them repeat their “request” in a polite way.
For example, “Give me candy!” — “May I please have some candy?” Be sure they say the whole sentence. Training them to add “Please” to their demand is not teaching graciousness. Training them to say a polite question is teaching the right way. AND, YOU MAY STILL SAY “NO” to their question.
Teaching graciousness is one boundary, and what they may have is another boundary. You get two for the price of one here!
You may enjoy John Rosemond’s work on these topics. As a child psychologist, he’s written and spoken about raising happy and responsible children for decades. HIs books are supportive, full of sanity and wonderful.
Always follow through.
When you tell your child that she must stop screaming, or go to his room, follow through. Better, give her the choice,”You may stop screaming or you may go to your room. Which do you choose?”
If she says, “I don’t choose either one,” you may say, “That’s fine. Then I choose for you. And take her to her room (a room without electronic screens, wifi access, etc, but with books and paper and pencil or crayons).
She needs to know you mean it.
Pretty soon your children will be doing better. Keep going!
Pretty soon they will be coping, and then you’ll notice they actually expect you to say, “No.” They’ll stop asking as often, and they’ll be more pleasant to be around. Your friends will notice what nice children you have. Life gets easier. And better. Your children will have a brighter future.
Congratulations to you! You are a role model of note. You will raise healthier children. You are loving in the greatest ways!
Dr Chris Baker
Dr. Chris Baker is Past President of the American Orthodontic Society, a pediatric dentist and teacher of orthodontics, An author, dental practice consultant, mentor, and a current or former faculty member of three U.S. dental schools, Dr Chris practices and blogs in beautiful Abu Dhabi, UAE, and glorious Texas, USA.
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© 2019 Dr Chris Baker