I’m a mother of four and one thing I always fuss about is how to be a better parent; how to positively impact my kids while they’re with us, before they face the world on their own.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise that child nurturing or training goes beyond providing a child with the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, shelter and others. I’ve come to realise that making a child turn out well requires energy, thoughtfulness and patience. Or, let me just say, it’s a herculean task to train up a child. No wonder the Bible says in Proverbs 26:6:
“Train a child in the way he should go, when he grows up, he’ll not depart from it.”
While alluding to this particular verse, a preacher that I listened to recently said the Bible could simply have said ‘teach a child’ but it opted for ‘train a child’ because there is a world of difference between teaching and training. According to him, teach means to just tell a child what to do without providing an example from your life (a sort of do as I say and not do as I do) while train means to use your personal examples to train a child.
In a way, I got the message that the best way to train a child is to be a walking advertisement (provide examples from your life) of what you’re teaching. You can not ask a child to avoid talking while eating when you’re committing the same blunder!
Below, I share some more tips on training your child:
Tip No 1: Build Your Child’s Self Esteem
This is crucial as a child that grows up with a low self esteem will always see him (or herself) as inferior to others, even as an adult.
You can help your child grow up with a positive self image or esteem by always being available for the child (this can be difficult by many parents working full time jobs but try to make out time for your child). Your availability would result in bonding with the child and growing the love and confidence element in him (or her).
To futher build the self worth of your child, interact and show genuine interest in his activities and accomplishments. Your approval of him (or her) would no doubt boost his sense of self worth.
Sporting out the good more than picking on what’s bad can help boost your child’s self esteem. Applaud the child whenever he does good things and deliberately maintain silence on some of the bad things he does. If you constantly find fault in him or her, the child would grow up feeling he’s no good.
The way you correct a child when he commits an error can also contribute to his (or her) self esteem. Threatening, shouting and hitting a child would do him (or her) no good. Explaining gently and getting the child to acknowledge the mistake and promise it won’t re-occur is a better way of instilling discipline as it gets the child to forget the past and improve after a mistake has been dealt with.
Tip No 2: Show Unconditional Love
A child should be shown lots of love but boundaries need to be clearly drawn. The child should be made to feel loved and wanted but disciplined when he makes a mistake (without affecting his world view on love). The only way to achieve this is to attack the mistake during the discipline, instead of the child.
There are times your spouse may discipline a child for an offence you think the child is not guilty of. Never oppose your spouse when disciplining the child; this creates confusion in the mind of the child. No matter how you feel about a disciplinary situation, hold your peacein that instant and express your feelings to your partner afterwards.
Secondly, children are very impressionable and what they see their parents do will most times form their world view of love. As much as possible, limit arguments to your bedroom; be nice to each other in the presence of your kids.
Tip N0 3: Make Rules and Never Bend Them
Make rules in your home and be consistent with them. Never bend the rules to favour any child; all of your kids should be treated equally. Consistency with this would send a clear message to kids as to what they’re allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to and when they flout the rules, they already know the punishment without being told! This would keep a level of sanity and order in your home.
Your consistency with rules, no matter how much you love a child would also teach him reliability and dependability as must-have traits of a responsible adult.
Tip No 4: Allow Your Child to Talk
By nature, children like to talk and so allow him (or her) to talk as this is a way to get to know the goings-on in his (or her) life, the challenges, triumphs and fears. This way, you’d notice if a child is erring and needs to be brought back to the right path. Be a silent listener, don’t try to dominate your conversation with your child as this is the only way to get him (or her) to really open up. Mastering the art of listening would also help you teach your child to also cultivate the habit of listening. It’s a valuable trait which we seem to be loosing, so, inculcate it in your child.
Allowing your child to talk can also help you train him or her to be a good communicator.
Tip No 5: Create Special Times for Your Child
No matter how busy you are, make out time for your child. This will strengthen the bonding within the family unit. You can do this by taking a walk in the garden together, watching a movie or doing household chores together. This sends a signal to the child that he (or she) is an integral part of the family. And to say that these times you specially spend with your children form unforgettable memories in their highly impressionable brain is like stating the obvious. If a child is far away from home, you can still achieve this by sending text messages, making phone calls or even sending gifts for no particular reason.
Wrapping It All Up
If you really want to be proud of your chidren ten, 15 or 20 years down the line, start teaching them by example. It’s a child training method that’d never fail. Once children see you practice live what you’re teaching, they would be more than willing to follow suit and you can be rest assured that wherever they are, they won’t disappoint, even if you’re not there!
Proper child upbringing is rewarding but you’ve got to start early as you don’t have all the time in the world. Remember you have just 18 years to prepare the child for the future. Would you mess with the opportunity or use it to build responsible and trustworty adults? The ball is really, in your court! But, to make a success of it, just know that you need God. He can help you chart your path through the challenges of better parenting.