Almost all cultures in the world view children as a blessing. They are seen as little bundles of joy that light up the household that they are born into. The children of today are also the adults of tomorrow therefore parents need to take responsibility to raise their children in a manner that makes them capable of making the right choices in life. In his book, The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting. Laurence Steinberg says “Good parenting helps foster empathy, honesty, self-reliance, self-control, kindness, cooperation, and cheerfulness”.
Here are some tips on how to raise confident, loving and empathetic children
1.Establish and set rules.
If the parent doesn't manage their children’s behaviour when they are young, they will have a hard time learning how to manage themselves when they are older and you aren't around. The rules your children have learnt from you are going to shape the rules they apply to themselves. "But you can't micromanage your child," Steinberg notes. It is also important to acknowledge and reward good behaviour from time to time.
2.Explain your rules and decisions.
While this is important for every rule it becomes especially crucial to explain to adolescent children. Expressing discomfort and concern while saying no to certain things instead of just saying no or “because I said so” helps in communicating the love behind the concern rather than the perceived control. Following rules only to avoid punishment do not have long term effects and are shirked off the moment the risk of punishment is gone.
3.Avoid harsh discipline
The aim of discipline must be to shape children to avoid hurting themselves, others and to make good choices in life. It must never be a reaction of a parent who gets upset and out of control. Parents must never verbally or physically abuse their children, normalising beating and cursing children in the name of discipline might lead to children having no boundaries with other people and accept abuse in the name of discipline from others in their life.
4.Treating them as individuals
It is important to remember that besides being part of a family, your children are individuals as well. As they grow older they start to develop their own beliefs and personalities. It is important to keep track of the content they consume and the friends they make at the same time, parents must not squash any interest, belief or choice just because it does not align with theirs. Showing interest and going the extra mile to understand their interests promotes a transparent and healthy relationship. Not comparing them to their siblings and peers also lets them know that they are valued and loved for being who they are.
5.Normalise Apologising to them
Adults might not like to apologize because it makes them feel ashamed, leading many children to believe that they’re incapable of making mistakes. Parents need to learn to apologize. Learning to apologize, and doing it, can improve your relationship with children and make it easier to teach them the values you wish to inculcate in them. This can only be done by practising what you preach. Apologizing to children and acknowledging the pain or harm you might have caused them to validates their feelings and informs them that this kind of treatment is wrong and must not be tolerated. This will also help them develop emotional awareness and communicating skills.
Steinberg, Laurence D. The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. Print.