It’s the dream of every parent to raise a family who all become happy, confident adults. You want the beauty of your children to shine through from the inside, and know that you have given them the best start in life possible. As you raise your kids from toddlers through to teenagers, you want to see them grow, learn, and fulfill their potential. Of course, there will be pitfalls along the way; difficult moments, arguments, and times of stress – but if you keep focusing on a few simple things, you’ll be able to see them through the toughest of times.
Now, of course you want your child to do as well as possible in all areas. You want them to be happy, successful, and comfortable in life. Often this can manifest in a desire to see them do well at school, go to a good college and enter a lucrative, stable career. However, it’s important to never mistake these material aims for the wellbeing of your child. Remember that people work in many different ways, and just because your kid doesn’t do well academically does not mean they will be unhappy. They may have brilliant skills with their hands, in constructing things, or artistically. The best way for your child to grow up feeling happy, confident and successful, is if you support them in the areas they enjoy, rather than stressing out if they don’t head down the path you expect.
As teenagers, young people go through a rollercoaster of hormones and new experiences. Whether male or female, they will start questioning themselves, their bodies, and their appearance. This can be a difficult time for any parent, and finding a way to allow your child to speak honestly to you is hard enough, let alone letting them know they are loved and beautiful just the way they are. The first cardinal rule is that you should never criticize your child’s appearance, even in unconscious ways, as this will add to their self-critique. It may be that your kid needs corrective procedures such as teeth straightening, and braces can make people feel very self-conscious. In these cases, it’s important to encourage your child’s confidence in their appearance in the present, not just in how they will look after the braces are removed.
Praise and Constructive Criticism
As your child grows older, they may start asking you for advice and feedback on various matters, from homework to their own creative endeavors. Here, it’s important to balance support and honesty as well as you can. You will be doing your child no favors by simply praising them blindly, and if they’re asking your opinion, they will want an honest response. At the same time, dismissing or critiquing their efforts can destroy their confidence and cause great arguments. Have you ever heard of the ‘compliment sandwich’? It’s a teaching technique in which a compliment is given first, followed by a critique, followed by another compliment. This way, the criticism is couched in positivity, allowing your child to take feedback on board whilst still feeling valued and encouraged.
Through thick and thin, and especially as your children get older, it’s important to keep finding quality time to spend together. If you have shared interests with your child this may be easier to accomplish. If you don’t, try to meet their level rather than forcing them into an activity you enjoy. Managed well, you could even institute a turn-based system where you each get to pick an activity, or a film to watch, encouraging mutual learning and respect. This way, it won’t just be on intense family holidays that you actually spend time with the young adults living in your home, and you can start building a relationship to last the rest of your lives.
Set Them Free
The worst habit of any parent is to start seeing your children as extensions of yourself. You may start wanting them to make up for your past ‘mistakes’, by doing better on their exams, or following your dream of becoming a lawyer. There can be an expectation that your children will follow a similar path to you; staying in the same area, marrying at the same time, having the same interests. However, it’s essential to remember they are not just your child, but a whole individual person who will forge their own life – and it may be very different from the one you expected or wanted for them! The sooner you can set them free to live as they wish and support them in whatever they choose, the sooner you can rest easy knowing you have raised a happy, confident person.