When parents are asked what they want most for their children in life, the majority of parents answer "to be happy." Makes sense. But what does it mean to be happy? Does it mean being rich? Famous? What do we as parents need to do to ensure our children's happiness? Or better yet, do we have any control over this?
As parents, we often put a lot of energy into making sure our children behave and that they do well in school. That in and of itself can be a full days work! But what about cultivating our children's character? Have you considered what qualities you want your children to have as adults and if so, what things are you doing to help them develop these attributes? I mean we all want our kids to be happy and successful, but what KIND of person do we want them to be?
For example, one characteristic that we value highly in our home is kindness. We encourage our children to be giving. We talk about about being kind to others. They participate in charitable events at school. Despite this, I see more moments of selfishness than I care to. I can talk until I'm blue in the face to them about being kind, but I've learned that this is not nearly as effective as them seeing it firsthand.
As a result, I decided that rather than trying to guilt them into being kind (sorry, this is a product of my Catholic upbringing), I would intentionally start doing several kind acts a day. Lest you think that I am Cruella DeVille, I have always made it a quest to do kind acts for others on a regular basis. Upon reflection, however, I realized that many of these acts were done at work or when the children were not around.
So I began several weeks ago doing little things for the kids or their father and the results have been nothing less then amazing. Now these acts have not been huge, e.g., taking the trash out for my husband, turning on the electric mattress pad for him, etc. One of the things I like to do for the kids from time to time is to run their bath, put on one of my relaxation cds and light a candle while they soak. They love it. Well, last week, my son wanted to do a kind act for his sister. He ran her bath, put on some of her favorite music and took in a glowing snowman that he had received over the holidays and dimmed the lights for her. He even laid out her pajamas and towel! I was floored! It was working! And the kind acts keep coming, e.g., putting the dishes away without asking, helping fold laundry, or going to bed to find that someone has turned on the electric mattress pad for me!
There has been a wonderful byproduct of all this kindness...there is more harmony in the house! Less bickering, more cooperation, more sharing and giving. It truly is a wonderful thing!
So, have you considered what personal qualities you want your child to emulate? Have your written them down? If you have considered this, what things have you tried to encourage this quality? Please share any tips, strategies or thoughts you might have :)