Rule one: Always give your children a choice.
It doesn't matter what the condition is, always give them options. Here is an
example. My son knows what I expect of him on a day to day basis. He has choices.
If he chooses to be bad, there is a cost for that behavior. The same goes with good
behavior. Choices allow your children to feel special. They want to feel as though
they have a part in the decisions that affect their lives. We all want a vote in the
actions that are taken in all aspects of our lives. This is true for even the youngest of
Rule two: Always have a cost and a reward for all tasks.
There is one major philosophy in life that must be adhered to. For everything we do
there must be a reward for completion and a cost for failure. This is the driving for all
of mankind. We have to have our eyes on something if we are going to put any effort
into anything. Look back at history and tell me that we did anything that didn't come
with some kind of reward. And most certainly, every failure has a cost. Even if that
cost is time. Give you children a goal or let them choose a goal rather. It’s the easiest
way to get them on the right path. Why fight with them when you can use your mind
to get them to do it on their own. That’s what I do.
Rule three: Follow through with all cost and rewards.
Failure to do this is devastating. Do not promise something that you cannot provide.
It’s the crutch that can turn your children against you. Remember that they are
smart and they will remember what you do. As you reinforce these behaviors, they
will begin to make better choices on their own. It’s the greatest feeling in the world
when you children correct you on your behavior. Then you know that you are doing
Rule four: Give them space.
As a parent it is hard sometimes to give you children the space they need to make
the decisions that your trying to teach them. I know that I want to jump in and make
changes all the time. However, I have learned that they don't need me to correct
them. They will learn the lessons on their own. My son and daughter like to fight
over who gets to do what first. It’s one of the oldest traditions among siblings that
there ever was. I have learned how to beat it. By using choices and teaching my son
what it means to be a big brother, I have taught him to make the right choices to set
a good example with his sister.
Rule five: Nothing is off limits.
If we want to treat our children as adults, then we cannot hold back for any reason.
There are many issues that I have faced with my own kids that make me question
everything. Our understanding of people and their behavior is way off. My children,
though they are young, are brilliant. They can learn so fast. Once you start teaching
them the ways of adulthood, there is no stopping them. For instance, my son
thought that it would be cute to curse in my presence. Now for most parents this is a
bad thing. However, I took a different approach to this. First, I explained that those
words were made up by people over time with meaning that didn't represent good
things. Let's take the s word for instance. If you actually took the time to find out
where it came from and what it meant, you would find that its ridicules. I will let you
do the work on that one. But for the sake of argument, it’s not a good word in our
society. I simply explained to my son that if he were to use those words in school or
around his sister, he would be setting a bad example. Here is the kicker. I explained
that if used in school, I could get into trouble. First I told him that social services
would be called. Then they would come to my house and talk with me and his
mother about how we raise him. Then I told him that he could be taken from us if
the offences were bad enough. Let me tell you something, he never used any of the
words again. He made the choice (on his own, mind you) to not use them. He told
me that he had to do the right thing for his sister and set the example. How
wonderful is that! Now, every action that he does around his sister is one that shows
her the right things in life. These are all choices that he makes.
Rule six: Know when to step in and how to do it.
There are going to be many times that you will need to jump in and make corrections
with your children. When I say "make corrections", that is exactly what I mean. Do
not punish your children for bad behavior. Make them pay for it. My way of doing it is
through conversation and loss of privileges. This is a most effective way to handle
them. Spanking is good when they are too young to understand. When they get
older, it only traumatized them into submission. We do not want that. We need to
convince them that they have the power to make the right choices for themselves.
Once they start doing that, its all over. They soon begin to question actions they
think about and decide if it’s good or not on their own. My son will ask questions
from time to time about the validity of a choice, and I will advise his as I would do.
That’s about it.
Rule seven: Communication breaks down and now their defiant.
I have to admit, the only reason that me and my son or daughter have a
communication breakdown is when we become stubborn. Weather they are or I am;
it’s always one of us. As a parent, I have to stop and think before I take critical
action. I have to ask myself if the communication breakdown is my fault. It’s
important to know. When you ask yourself, really mean it. Evaluate what you are
thinking and then put yourself in their shoes. What would you want? Sometimes kids
can be difficult, but often times the problem is laziness on your part. No offense to
any parents out there. Here is an example. You promised your child you would take
them to the park this week and its Thursday. You haven't done it yet and they are
starting to get frustrated and take it out on you. They start yelling and getting out of
control. Now the first thing you want to do is so "fine, we are not going because your
not behaving!". This is not the right answer. Stop now and think about it in their
shoes. You would want the park too. Instead of punishing them for bad behavior, talk
to them about why you have not gone to the park and reassure them that it is still
your intention to take them. Find them something to do for the time being to get
their minds off the park. Don't just give in and take them either. This is teaching
them to misbehave to get their way. Instead, take them out to do some shopping
and then swing by the park on your way home. You didn't give in and they got what
they wanted. Or simply talk to them and make sure that they know your not going
because of the behavior, but because you WANT to take them.
Rule eight: Children are often mini versions of you.
Know that when they exert certain behaviors, chances are it’s also your own
behavior. Make sure that you’re not punishing your children for something that you
do or would do. Try instead to explain that you try not to do that thing yourself and
would like to see them also try. I have a tendency not to finish projects. Sometimes I
get bored with them and just drop them. So when my son does it, its not his actions
that make me upset, it is my actions in him that make me upset. So by
understanding this, I can be a better teacher and teach him. I can explain to him my
behavior and why I don't want to see that behavior in him.
Rule nine: There is no limit to the teaching that you can do.
It’s up to you how much to teach them. My son is 11 now and knows how to take
care of himself. He can clean his room, make his own means, balance a checkbook,
run a small business and much more. Ask me how I do it? It is easy as pie. It’s all a
part of keeping the mind working. I chose to teach him how to start and run a small
woodshop business. It involved planning, money, cost, budgets, craft, time
management, and dedication. His task was to start the shop with one hundred
dollars (monopoly money). He then paid me for wood and his expenses such as
electricity. He had to balance his budget and figure out costs. I had to help with
much of it, but it was a learning experience. Experience he uses in many aspects of
his life. He had to keep receipts that I gave him for the wood and bills to account for
the money. These are all things that build their character. He also had to draw and
make the final product (with some help). We then created a website to market the
item. It was a great way to teach him about the real world and what he could expect
from it. Now that he is getting older, I can see some of those lessons come out. He
has a club with his friends. They have the rule book and many of the rules reflect
that of the real world. I am so proud of him.
Rule ten: Don't force your children to learn a trade they want nothing to do
This will make them run from you. It’s always been the tradition that the son follows
the father. From birth, they learn about what you do through conversation and so by
default, many believe that is what they should do. My father is an engineer. Though I
know much about it, it is not my passion. Writing and studying ancient ways are. He
did try to encourage me to study the art and I did. It just wasn't for me and
fortunately, he didn't force me to continue. However, there are many people that do.
This is a good way to loose your kids' favor. Let them explore and learn a trade they
want. Talk to them. They know what they want. Try to encourage them to better
themselves all the time. Set the example yourself and continue to better yourself. Be
the leader though example.
By Tan Choon Yoke