The Best Parenting Habits For Raising Healthy, Happy, Hard-Working Children
Information is everywhere. Free, good information, and we seek it out on a regular basis. One of the challenges though, is weeding through the swirling sea of parenting tips and find a game-changing nuggets or two. This process takes time. (And who has any of that?!)
I have read somewhere around 130 books on learning, child development and parenting. I’ve spent ten of thousands of hours teaching and working with children. So when a parent wrote in and asked me for tips on the most important things a parent can do to promote learning, work ethic and overall well-being for their child, I was stumped. Was all that reading and teaching for nothing?
So I took several weeks and talked to other parents, psychologists and industry experts. I revisited some of those 130 books. Much to my relief, some common elements revealed themselves. Here are the three most influential things parents can do to model growth and motivation:
- Read in front of your children.
Let your children see you reading, your own books, on your own time, for enjoyment. This can be especially effective if you read while your children are doing homework. This communicates that everyone is working to mentally grow, throughout life.
- Have more in-depth conversations about your child’s day—and talk about your day as well.
Getting our kids to share more about their school day is a common goal for many of us parents. We would like to take the “How was your day dear? –Fine” routine and kick it up a few notches, right? Use open-ended but specific questions, like these:
What books did you read today?
What did you write about?
What kind of math problems did you do?
What questions did you ask?
What comments did you make?
What did you have for lunch?
Who did you play with at recess?
You can start the conversation by telling her that you would like to start hearing more about her day, that having a longer conversation about she did will be the new routine. Over time, your child will expect more in-depth conversations and more readily share aspects of her day. Be sure to talk about specific parts of your day as well. Throughout your day, mentally “file away” stories of amusing or joyful moments—even if they are commonplace– to share with your family. Sharing details of your day will also model story-telling, mindfulness, presence and appreciation. Teaching our children to notice and appreciate these things is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
- Bring your kids to work if possible, and let them see you working.
Depending on your child’s age and the culture at your workplace, try taking your child to work for an hour or two at a time, when possible. Ideally, they will not only get to say hi to your coworkers (and hear the inevitable “You’ve grown so much since the last time I saw you!” or “Your dad talks about you all the time!”), but they will also get a chance to see you actually working. For children around 8 years or older, they can being a coloring book, puzzle or school work and work beside you for a chunk of time. You are serving as a role model for productivity, as well as giving them a preview of what adult work life is like.
We all want our children to be happy, hard-working, communicative, good-natured, observant, appreciative, motivated and industrious. We want to them to have friends, fun, talents, curiosities and perseverance. We want them to have the skills they will need to find rewarding experiences and success throughout life. My suggestions for all of us is to pick two or three goals, such as the ones above, and incorporate those into our lives as rituals. Let’s see where that takes us; let’s see where that takes our children.