My Books

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

5 Ways Raise a Good Kid

I recently saw this poster on Facebook and it really struck a chord with me.

Why? Because I was so often guilty of it when I was raising my kids. I'm on my last child now, and she's already sixteen. I've done most of the child rearing that I'll need to do. And guess what? She's a really good kid!

Here are some things I wish I'd remembered more when I was in the thick of raising my kids:

1. Reflect to your children who you want them to be, not necessarily who they are right now. If you want them to be kind, tell them what a kind person they are. Helpful? Praise their helpfulness, even if they initially complain about helping. If you see a germ of a positive character trait in them, tell them they're so good at being that way. They'll eventually start seeing themselves as you do and living up to your expectations. You're holding up a mirror for them to see themselves as the best person they can possibly be.

2. Give them purpose. I was terrible at this. I was a mom who didn't like making my kids do much in the way of housework or any other work, really. I figured they're only young once and they'd get their share of adult responsibilities soon enough. The only problem with that is it deprives them of a sense of purpose. Kids need to be given chores so they feel useful and valued. By helping out, they feel a part of the family team. It also helps them prepare for adulthood, so they  can enter it confidently, with the skills they need to succeed.

3. Teach them to serve. Contrary to what your kids may think, it's not all about them. They need to learn to think of others as much or more than themselves. Point out others who are in need and ask them what they think could be done to help them. Then help them take action and do it. Soon, they'll be able to make this association on their own without your prompting. Let them make cookies to take to an elderly neighbor or make cards to encourage someone who's sick or lonely. Have them do someone else's chores just to surprise them. Talk with them about the great feeling serving others brings.

4. Give them something to believe in. Kids learn very quickly that people aren't perfect and will unintentionally disappoint them. Believing in a Supreme Being is both a huge comfort and an anchor in their lives. How wonderful to know that when humans let them down, there is a God who can always be counted on and is completely trustworthy, even in the worst situations. Studies show that when children are raised in some sort of spiritual upbringing, their faith grounds them in a way nothing else does.In rating kids' happiness,  spirituality weighed in more heavily than temperament and it lessened specific health related issues. You can read more specifics about one such study here.

5. Teach them to laugh at themselves. How? By laughing at yourself. Children often learn their sense of humor from those around them. They also learn coping mechanisms by observing others. So when you're in an embarrassing situation or one that is awkward or uncomfortable, laugh it off. Show your kids how to lighten up, not take themselves so seriously. It immediately takes off a lot of pressure and tension and often diffuses difficult circumstances.

Obviously, there aren't any sure-fire ways to guarantee your child turns out happy, responsible, successful--in a word, great. But doing these five things as consistently as possible will get them (and you!) off to a good start.

What other tips can you give for raising great kids? Share them with the rest of us in the comments below.


  1. Great post...great reminders. Thanks!

  2. You make some great points, Linda! And I especially love the part about not taking yourself too seriously. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, nor is there a perfect kid. We will all mess up. Thankfully, we have a loving Father who forgives us our sins,so we can accept his forgiveness and go on...perhaps with a good laugh along the way.

  3. Thanks, Carol. If there's anything I've learned along the way it's that laughing and lightening up a situation with humor makes a point just as easily as hammering it down one's throat. And it's swallowed so much easier, too! Thanks for reading and commenting. Now go have yourself a good belly laugh! :)