As back-to-school time draws near, it is important to take a moment and reflect on our own homework — that of being an effective parent. As new parents many years ago, my husband and I made a short list of the character traits that we hoped our kids would have as adults. Our wisdom has grown in the past twenty-eight years as parents, and with that, so has the list.
- Self-esteem – Feeling loved and feeling capable are both essential to develop a child’s self-esteem. Be sure that this is not mistaken for other-esteem, where children (and parents) only esteem themselves through other people’s comments, or what they think other people are thinking of them.
- Confidence – Use encouraging words no matter how large or small an achievement. Be specific about the new ability or amount of effort you saw int he child.
- Positive Perspective – Be able to rely on the good character of the people you love. By turning off the TV for a family game, you are teaching that it is possible to change your mood with a positive distraction – a positive life outlook – and the importance of family as our primary community.
- Conviction, with justification – Be willing to say what you believe, justify why you believe it, and accept the influence of others you hold in high esteem.
- Emotional regulation – No one likes a hothead, or a doormat. Practicing spiritual awareness, tolerance, and outlawing poor language will teach emotional self-regulation.
- Initiative and follow-through – These traits can pay off in the workplace, as well as create confidence and reliability in personal interactions. One way to instill this in children is by withholding reward until the job is completely done.
- Spiritual awareness and tolerance – Have a worldview that promotes positive healthy behavior and a community that supports it. Tolerate others, and approach with softness and inquiry so as not to offend.
The work of a parent is not easy, and this list a challenge to achieve one hundred percent of the time. The good news is that these are all skills that can be taught, practiced, encouraged, and rewarded. As parents it is about being intentional in the lessons.
Submitted by: Susan Hansen, licensed clinical social worker in Dublin. She specializes in working with couples and is a Level 3 Gottman Method Therapist. Sue2CoachU@hotmail.com or 215-723-7005.