Your kids. They’ve got school to teach them their educational requirements. They’ve got friends to teach them how to be social and have fun. They’ve got their extracurricular activities to teach them movement and play. And they have dozens of other messages distracting them at any moment of the day. And they have you, their parents, to teach them even more from the list above and everything else about life. That is a big job. As a parent and an educator, I understand the unique challenges of teaching kids anything. And as a coach, I’ve observed that kids (like we do) turn out like their parents. So even though I’m telling you to teach these skills to your children, I’m obviously also saying embody them, so that they can’t help but learn them. Think how much you and they will grow from this approach.
1. Care for your body. * Everything in life is better when you feel control over and love your body. Caring for yourself physically is the first step to becoming who you want to be. Your kids will watch you respect or neglect your body and then do the same. Which do you want them to do?
2. Sustain loving relationships, and communicate. * The kinds of relationships you have are what they will repeat in their lives. So if you think you don’t have to be working on your marriage or partnership, you are missing a major key to good parenting. * Whatever you’re not saying to your spouse/partner is causing harm to your relationship. The more you hide something, the larger it looms; learn to speak up.
3. Find and work towards your passion(s). * Your kids watch how you feel about your career or occupation all day long. They will follow in your footsteps, so make sure you love the path you’re on or you will watch them lose to the same challenges as you. You want to see your kids fulfill their full potential and have their dreams, right? You have to go first.
4. Tell the truth. * Talk about what’s really going on, in your life and your relationships. Your kids don’t get to escape the trials of being human, so pretending issues don’t exist does not save them. Building a culture of openness just might, though!
5. Make and keep a promise. * Your word matters, to your kids and you, and they are listening and watching to see how reliable and consistent you are. Nothing feels better to your family, or to you for that matter, than knowing they can trust you to do what you said, even if it’s not what they want you to do.
The best thing you can do for your child is to figure out how to be happy yourself, and take actions every day that make you happy. You already are a role model to your kids, so be a happy, fulfilled and loving role model. By being an example of these skills and explicitly discussing them with your children, they can understand the subtleties and mimic your behavior. Your kids will turn into you, whether you like it or not. Parents teach their children all the time, so be intentional about what you teach yours. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about showing them it’s okay to be human and that they are responsible for their lives, just like you showed them with your own life. Your children’s future (and the planet’s) depends on you and all those in a parenting role, so lead the way!
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