By Bob Myers.
Everything written on this website, including these tips, is based on the principle: There is no happiness without peace; no peace without justice; and no justice without equality, even in the home.
- Reward children just for ‘being,’ not just when they are achieving. Children deserve love and affection simply for existing. This can be shown often through hugs, affectionate play or verbal expressions of love and concern.
- Every child has a unique identity. Some are shy, others are confident, and you cannot force a child to change her basic nature. Every child should be accepted and appreciated as they are, if only because they had no say in what attributes and disposition they inherited. Nor do they have a say in what they have learned since birth.
- Trying to force a child to do something he is not ready to do can lead to trouble. When he is ready he may need guidance and encouragement, but will not need to be forced.
- To encourage a positive attitude towards work, make a list of routine tasks and think about the fairness and safety reasons for those tasks, as well as the short and long term consequences (effects) when those tasks are not carried out, so you can explain it to the kids when they ask that annoying question, ‘Why?’
- To encourage a positive attitude towards rules, do the same as you did with the tasks. Then you can explain the fairness and safety reasons for the rules.
- If you normally make the rules, ask the kids to suggest how the rules could be improved. If they suggest something that is fairer or safer, adjust or replace the rule. This helps them to develop ownership of the rules.
- Try not to criticize a child’s behaviour in front of others. You want the child’s behaviour to change; you don’t want to damage their self- esteem.
- If you think of the child as being separate from her behaviour, you can strongly condemn the behaviour without condemning the child. You can be angry at the behaviour without being angry with her. The behaviour is unloved; the child is loved. The behaviour is rejected but the child is simply taught a more acceptable way of acting.
- Give children age-appropriate choices so they get practice at making decisions. This will increase their sense of self and of their importance in the family.
- When going shopping remember to ask your child what he likes and dislikes. This is a way of helping children develop the confidence that accompanies a sense of equality with others.
- Parents and children have different responsibilities and different problems but the child’s problems are just as important to the child as the parent’s problems are to the parent. This sometimes causes a conflict that could get out of hand if it turns into a power struggle. If possible, solve the child’s problem first, so peace is restored, and then tackle your problem.
- Every problem is an opportunity to spend healthy time bonding with the child and passing on knowledge and skills as you encourage the child’s efforts.
- Teaching kids habits, rituals and routines is essential for helping them develop a sense of security, especially if you explain the safety and fairness reasons for each action. For example ‘stop, look, and think before crossing a road’ is obviously based on safety, and knowing that reason can help them to think about consequences.
Photo: Chambers Pillar, N.T. Australia.