Who doesn’t want to be an awesome mom or dad? I’m a father of two children, and I believe raising a responsible child is one of the foremost obligations of every parent. Nothing is more fulfilling than seeing our children be successful and have the ability to cope with challenges and adversities in life.
Developing effective parenting skills, however, requires wisdom and sacrifice. A parent’s patience is often tested. So are there signs that indicate our kids are indeed becoming more self-disciplined and on their way to being happy, responsible adults in the future?
The answer is Yes! Here are seven signs to watch for:
Much time is wasted when children spend too much time watching TV and playing with gadgets. When their attention is glued to a screen, their ability and inclination to listen to instructions and obey the parent diminishes.
Regulate the amount of time your children watch television and are involved with other forms of entertainment, and patiently but consistently remind your children of their chores and other responsibilities—from doing their homework to washing the dishes to helping with yardwork. Your children are growing in maturity when they begin doing the tasks without being told several times.
Suggestion for parents: Clearly define your expectations so your children will develop good habits or routines. Set small goals that are achievable, and ensure that the children’s daily schedule is posted and easily visible at home.
One thing I have always admired about children is their persistence. For instance, when they ask you to buy an ice-cream cone or a toy in the mall, they will not stop asking until they get what they want. To them, giving up is not an option.
One reality of life, however, is that we cannot always get what we want—especially if we have limited resources. Your children are becoming more responsible if they understand that there are certain limitations when it comes to making requests. This is one of the critical tasks of parenthood: to make sure your children understand that it may take time or require additional chores before they can get the sought-after item.
Suggestion for parents: While every child is different, it’s important to spend time talking with your children, explaining why they can’t always get want they want. If it involves buying a costly item, discuss other alternatives or options, such as going to a craft store to see if it’s possible to make something similar or even better for less money.
The best way to overcome fear of failure is to give your children room to explore and allow them to make mistakes. While it’s painful to see your children make errors, it’s a perfect opportunity to teach them how to handle frustrations and unpleasant emotions, such as anger or sadness.
Children understand that people sometimes mess up, but with support and guidance from parents they learn to become more resilient. When the habit of not giving up is being developed, children will learn not to be afraid to make mistakes and to become more independent.
Suggestion for parents: Encourage your kids to try new things and not to give up. Be mindful about your own response to their mistakes and failures as your attitude has an impact on your children. Be generous in giving compliments and encouragement whenever your children successfully accomplish even something small.
Getting children to cooperate can be difficult. Most kids obey their parents when the parents use punishment-and-reward approaches, which can be effective. Your children are being more personally responsible, however, when they begin choosing to listen and obey even without chocolates, lollipops, or sticker charts. They understand family expectations and rules that are neither too harsh nor too lenient.
Suggestion for parents: Make it clear that you love your children unconditionally. Children who are truly loved and supported by parents don’t need threats or rewards. Be specific, however, regarding the behaviors you want, and make sure you model them yourself as well.
Kids are smart enough to figure out what they are capable of accomplishing, as well as their limitations. Comparing your children with others can be detrimental and may damage their self-esteem. Although children may sometimes compare their grades with classmates, or question why they’re not as athletic as their friends, with encouragement and support from parents they will begin to realize that they have their own unique skills and talents.
Suggestion for parents: Instead of comparing your children with others, express appreciation for their own talents and skills. Find opportunities to emphasize effort, tenacity, and practice over ability in order to develop self-esteem.
As children grow in maturity and wisdom they begin to anticipate potential results of their positive or negative behaviors. Well-defined, fair, and agreed-upon consequences help to clarify to children what is and what is not OK. Not washing the dishes, not doing their homework, or not feeding the dog, for instance, might result in the taking away of certain privilges, such as playing with friends after school or watching their favorite TV program.
The more consistently you enforce the rules, the more likely your children will do the chores without being asked—or at least without whining about it too much.
Suggestion for parents: Explain to your children the cause and effect of a certain behavior. For instance, you might say, “You will get burned if you touch the boiling kettle.” Learn to visualize and use clear examples. Explain potential consequences, and remember to stick to the rules consistently.
Needless to say, children who learn to love and obey Jesus are the reasonable result of having parents who have a loving relationship with God as well. Parents who are good role models will inspire children and help them to thrive and do their best. Develop good spiritual habits such as reading the Bible together, praying before going to bed, and using God-given talents at church and in ministry to others. Children will then learn to obey their parents, as well as Jesus, happily and willingly.
Suggestion for parents: If you want to raise children who love Jesus,spend quality time reading the Word of God together, and ensure that family worship is a priority in the home. Encourage your children to participate in age-appropriate ministries and other related church activities.
Remember that children—as well as parents—are not perfect; they will make mistakes. Be consistent but also loving and patient in your training, and you will begin to see these signs of growing maturity and responsibility in your children.
As a responsible parent, your ultimate goal is to model the behaviors and values you would like to see in your children, such as loving God, caring for others, and being patient, kind, and productive. Character is caught, not just taught; so be a good example for your children to follow.
Jun Amparo is an author, school counselor, and founder of Richly Blessed Today, a blog about personal finance. He and his wife, Margie, live in Thailand and parent two young children, Justin and Gayle.