Read these 61 Raising Children Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dad tips and hundreds of other topics.
Accept children for who they are, not for what they do. Do not look for constant successes or push them into high achievement. Instead, support and encourage them as they search for the life that they desire. If their self-esteem is solid, they will push themselves to achieve and succeed.
Your son's respect for his mother will flow from your relationship with her. Treat your partner with kindness and respect, yet do not be soft or wimpish. Respect includes respecting the fact that you are equals in the relationship and share equal responsibility of caring for your children. You are an important role model for your son, and how he relates to women when he is older is influenced by you. Treat this role carefully.
Our children deserve our unconditional love regardless of how they behave. When they behave badly, their actions need to be dealt with (with discipline) but they, as a human being, still deserve the same love. Avoid putting your child down with criticism at them as a person. Avoid calling them a bad child. Instead, tell them that you don't like their current behaviour. It is best to keep the child's self esteem built up at all times and the bad behaviour modified.
If you have trouble relating to your child's actions / reactions, picture your child as being yourself at their age or as the eternal child within yourself. Recall how you would react to the situation and understand your child's thinking and point of view. Use this to relate to your children's thought and emotion processes and to help them understand situations from where they see them.
Letting children grow up and lead their own lives is not always easy to do. We often want to keep them young and under our wings forever. Remember, our children are only on loan to us - once they grow, they're free to go. We can't - and should never try to - hang onto them permanently.
Sometimes, to get the message across, we find ourselves lecturing to our children. However, lecturing is not a good way to interact in the family environment. When you lecture, you are setting up a situation where the children are more likely to rebel, feeling like they are living in an inflexible institution. In getting the message across, communication is the key. Ask them questions as well as offering advice. Tell them what you don't like about the situation, Advise them of the rules. But, at all times, try to avoid lecturing.
Cut the kids a little more slack when you are tired. Because you are tired, your patience and reason are affected. By giving them a little more freedom, you're probably only conpensating for your less then usual patience and reactions. You'll find it much easier to cope with them this way.
I have often found myself in situations where my heart tended to lead my brain in reacting to situations. I have learned to think before I act. This has saved me from myself and damaged personal relations many times.When agitated count to ten or think about why the situation upsets you prior to reacting.
Make space for the idle chatter of your children. They want to tell you all about their day and their lives. You are incredibly important to them and they need your time and attention in order to grow their self worth and confidence. Try to set time aside each day - physically and mentally to give them your full attention. Often the moment you arrive home from work is when they most want to tell you. A day is a long time to a child and, if you've been at work all day, they haven't seen you in what seems like ages. Prepare yourself before you walk in the door to be there for your family and give them time.
If your kids are becoming bored and listless, perhaps it's time to start them on setting goals. It's never to early to get into goals, and research has shown that people who are regular goal setters have the greatest chance to become the most successful in their endeavors. Sit down with them and look at what they desire most to do / have in their lives. Set a path to achievement and break it down into easy-to-do chunks. Maybe today is the day to start working towards achieving a dream and you may find it gets you motivated about your own goal setting.
Expect the best of your children and they wil expect the best of themselves. However, don't set overly high expectations or demand overly high efforts. Assess what your child can do and encourage them to strive for this level. This may be a level that they achieve sometimes and you want to help them maintain that level more often. Or, it may be a new level that is a real step up for them. Either way, ensure it is realistic and adds value to their lives.
A recent survey amongst teenagers has found that the biggest problem that they face, according to them, is not violence, crime, drugs or alcohol. Their biggest problem is boredom and lack of direction. In fact, these two things are big contributors to the other problems mentioned above. When kids have nothing positive to focus on or to work towards, then something negative will often fill the void. Lack of direction (producing boredom) leads kids to look for some excitement in their lives (crime, violence, drugs) and / or some way out of facing reality (drugs, alcohol, withdrawal). Helping kids find a meaning for their lives and setting goals can be lifesavers to so many.
Avoid frustrations with your children when at a restaurant. Keep the children amused by taking some small toys with you for them to play with. Pencils and paper can also be a great distraction, as can a favourite picture book. This can also work with little ones at the movies where their attention span is too short for even kids movies.
If your child is disabled in some way, they still need social interaction with other people. They shouldn't just sit at home all the time. A sporting club (with teams of players with the same / similar disability) or social club is a great way for your child to grow socially and find support and encouragement.
Teach your kids to be good sports - not just determined winners. Winning should never be at the expense of the pleasure or fairness of the game. The best winners are those that try to beat themselves and who encourage everyone else to do the same. In this way, everyone can win - not based on score - but based on personal achievement.
Sometimes, it is hard to admit that we have made a mistake or have acted in a less then satisfactory manner. However, in order to teach children to take responsibility for their lives and actions, we need to show that owning up and saying sorry are important things to do. So be prepared to say you are sorry over mistakes, lead your children by example. But don't overdo it; some people apologise all the time and over smaller things and the action loses meaning.
How do you measure success in your life? Do you measure it by money, job, other material things or relationships? How would you feel on your deathbed if you looked back on your life and discovered you had measured success by the wrong thing? The best things in life are free, and because they're free, we tend to take them for granted whilst we have them. Think about what really matters and make that your success. Remember, you can lose all your money and make it back again, but a love once lost may never be recovered.
When the kids are noisy, don't compete with them. If they are yelling or making a lot of noise, approach them in a calm and quiet manner and ask them to quieten down. If you yell or make more noise, it becomes a competition and you give them signals that, because you've gone louder, that they can too (despite the fact that you're actually trying to achieve the opposite). If they're using volume as a way of rebelling (loud music or TV), try talking to them calmly and sensibly. Their volume is a signal that they want something from you. Perhaps you can strike a better deal rather then just competing for who is the loudest.
Play ball games often with your young kids and start them as young as possible. Any ball games will do, whether it's catching, hitting or kicking a ball. Not only is it fun to do and is good family time, but it also develops good eye-hand co-ordination for them. Also, you can be setting them up to take on more serious sports as they grow older.
Do you want your kids to like your sports? Chances are, they will if that sport is part of their environment and they find it exciting or interesting. However, they won't always be into what you are into, and that's okay. Encourage them to follow or play the sports that they like. They should appreciate your support more then your interest.
Your college-bound teen is going to get access to credit cards: Most will get into trouble once and get themselves out by turning to the Bank of Dad. Setting up a small "Bank of Dad" overdraft with your younger teen will teach him or her the advantages and traps of credit use. The overdraft must be large enough to cause real problems for the young teen, without causing you a problem: For most dads $500 is a good sum for this purpose. Make sure your overdraft carries a hefty interest rate similar to credit card loading, say 18.5%.
Sometimes it's good to see things from your children's point of view. Try to stop and imagine how they see a situation - how big it is to them, how out of perspective people's emotions may seem, how fascinating small things are, how strange are those things that we take for granted. How you child sees the world can shape their whole life and being. If you understand what they see, you can help them to deal with some of their problems.
If your child has a handicap or disability, you should ensure that you treat them as normally as you would treat anyone else. This doesn't mean ignoring the disability altogether. Rather, it means that you don't over-treat them in any way. Recognising the disability is as important as recognising anything that hinders peoples' abilities. But, over-emphasising the disability or the problems caused by it can lead the child to have emotional traumas over their particular handicap - feeling that they are "different" to everyone else.
Having a child who is disabled in a physical or mental way can be very difficult and challenging to deal with. You may find that your own fears and beliefs hinder your relationship with your child or affect their belief in their abilities. It is important that you find ways to deal with the fears or limiting beliefs that you carry around. This may mean therapy, or, at least, more effort from you to identify ways that your fears / beliefs come out and working on modifying your behaviour.
Be around as much as you can when your kids are sick. They will see your role as a loving father more clearly. This is important for sons in their development as men, and daughters in the type of men they will choose as life partners. When your child is ill, they want comfort and loving attention. Give them what you can.
Do you find that your children do exactly what you tell them not to do. This is because, by mentioning something, you have brought their focus directly to that thing. To lead them to not do something, distract them to something that you do want them to focus on.
Keep a list of fun things to do so that you're not stuck for ideas when your kids are bored. Often, we think of something to do, or somewhere to go, when we are not in the situation to do so. Likewise, we can't think what to do when we have time available. That's where a "to do" list stuck on the fridge can be useful. You may suddenly discover you thought of going to the zoo a month ago and you haven't done it yet. This list can save you a lot of time and avoid those three dreaded words: "Dad, I'm bored..."
Check your child's level of self esteem or self worth by their posture. Are they slumped over in the shoulders? Does his / her head point down most often? Does he / she avoid eye contact with others, especially when speaking to them? Does your child shuffle their feet on the ground instead of picking them up when they walk? All of these are indicators of low self esteem in the child and require some serious work on building up the worth of the child in their own eyes. Other indicators are the volume and clarity of their speaking and how well they hear you (rather then pretending to be deaf to ignore you)
Handicapped children often require more attention then non-handicapped kids. They have a lot more to deal with in order to develop stability and emotional maturity. This puts big demands on parents and, as a dad, you need to be prepared to be there for them often. You may no longer have time for golf games or drinks with buddies or too many late nights at the office. This places conflicting priorities on you that you need to balance. Remember, in that balancing act, to make time for yourself - this may mean a change in what you do as you may not have time for golf, etc. Give you child as much as you can, but balance to give yourself what you need.
"If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves." C.G. Jung. Jung is right; sometimes, change is required, but the problem is not always where we think it is. Try to be objective in identifying what needs to change and who needs to change.
If you find difficulty in accepting the actions or desires of your children, ask yourself this: Do I dislike this action / desire because it is wrong, or because it is different to what I would do / think? If it is not really wrong (ethically, morally, legally), let them pursue their individuality. They may love and respect you more for it.
Is your teenage boy ignoring you when you speak? Teenage boys bodies generally grow faster then they can handle. At one stage, the internal parts of their ears do not develop at an even rate, such is the rapidity of growth. This can cause the teenager to partially lose the acuteness of their hearing for a short time. Next time he seems to be ignoring you, speak a little louder - perhaps he really can't hear you.
Are there too many toys in the toy box, on the floor, and everywhere else? It's a good idea to put some away and rotate the active toy stock on a regular basis. Too many toys tends to reduce the child's desire to play with any particular ones and they can actually become bored more quickly then if they had less to play with. Putting away toys that they haven't shown much interest in lately, allows for other toys to come out and gives the child a fresh look at what they can play with. After a toy has been away in a cupboard for awhile, it can seem like a new toy to the child when it re-emerges.
When your child is behaving well, reward them appropriately. If their behaviour is exceptional, give them praise, a hug and, sometimes, a treat. This may be a lolly, an ice cream or a sticker or stamp on their hand. If they are being generally well behaved, give them the praise and hug as well. Let them know that you appreciate their good behaviour.
If you find that you're getting stressed when the kids are around, try to create a calm environment. This means maintaining an attitude of calm yourself and encouraging the kids to do the same. Speak to them in a softer, quieter voice then they use. Move more slowly then they do. Try to bring them in time with you. Keep stereo or TV volumes down - better still, avoid having more then one on at a time and keep the volume down.
Eventually little Johnny or Janey is going to say "Dad! I need a loan." This is the time to use our coaching skills.
Loaning children money can be a great way to teach them about the costs, risks and work involved in borrowing. Starting in their teen years keep a Bank of Dad book. Mark down all loans and charge your little one interest: Many parents deposit the interest in their children's college funds.
Taking this step will teach your child the skills needed to responsibly handle borrowing.
Do the kids become difficult at certain times of the day? This can be due to you and Mom getting tired or busy. At times, we are more distracted and more prone to lower our concentration and patience with our children. They pick up on this and act accordingly. Next time the kids start to muck up, watch your own behaviour - perhaps it's you, and not them, that needs to modify actions or mood.
If you are trying to teach your kids certain habits, (don't smoke, don't swear, etc.), look at what you are doing. Children learn by example. If you don't want them to adopt certain habits, make sure that you don't have the same habits. Kids pick up more by your actions than by your words.
Many of us have had the pleasure of raising the good child. While this can be a no-stress situation for us, for our child it can lead to learning poor behaviors.
The good child may be ignored or worse have too much trust/responsibility placed on his or her head. This can lead to behaviors that will show up in adulthood as trying too hard to please. Remember to pay attention to the good child and not give them too much responsibility.
Don't push your kids to excel at sport. They may not want to be the best sportsperson around. They may simply enjoy playing the game for fun or purely fitness. For children to excel, they should grow up in an environment of excellence. To be a role model for them, be the best that you can be in what you are passionate about. In that way, they will learn to excel naturally, in the area that they choose.
Encourage children to "need" less. Children believe that they need so many things beyond the basics of air, water, food, shelter and, of course, love. They see a new toy or an ice cream or the latest game as a need. At that moment, they want it so badly and the image of it is so big that they can't see their life is good without it. Where do they pick this up from? Check your own language and see if you "need" more often then you think. Also, sometimes children simply require time or another distraction to remove the need from an item.
Teach your kids, through your own actions, to work as a team. That is, to compete with each other - not against each other. Help them to understand that competitiveness means working towards a common goal, not trying to outdo each other. Winning is great, especially if everyone wins.
The role of dads has changed dramatically over the past 15 to 20 years. Fathers are expected now to be less of the distant, money-earning disciplinarian, and more of the caring, sharing in-tune dad. The old dad offered children a view on discipline and strength (being the one to protect and provide). The new dad has to be an all rounder - being a mixture of mom and dad in one. Both offer advantages although the old dad is often less able to relate to the child and show their love or support. Which dad would you like to be?
Can't get your children to sleep at night? You can't successfully help babies or children to sleep if you are frantic yourself. The child picks up on your anxious energy extremely easily. In order to relax them, you must relax yourself. Turn your mind off of the one hundred and one things you will do when he / she is asleep and project yourself into a scene that relaxes you - staring out of a train window at miles of countryside rolling by, laying down in a field and listening to the bird song, listening to calming music. It doesn't matter what it is. If it calms you - think of it.
If your child is disabled, encourage them in anything they want to undertake. It's better to avoid saying that they can't do something just because of their disability. Instead, find ways that they can. For example, if they are in a wheelchair and they want to play sport, encourage them to consider wheelchair basketball. There are plenty of stories of disabled people who have succeeded in doing "the impossible" simply because no one ever told them that they couldn't do it.
Speaking to children is not hard. Children are little and inexperienced, however, they are not stupid.
Talk with your children much as you'd talk with any other friend. Use words that are appropriate for the child's age and take time to explain ideas.
Answer the child's questions and ask some of your own. Questions are a good way of communicating.
Don't be afraid to answer "I don't know." When you don't know be willing to find out. "I don't know, but the answer will be in the encyclopedia. We'll go look it up in a minute." is a wonderful answer to many tough questions.
Making chores fun and involving your kids in them is a great way to achieve a few different things at once. If you involve a child or all of the children in washing the family car, you can turn it into a water fight and, at the same time, they can earn pocket money for completing the task. Washing the dishes can be done to music and you can all dance and sing your way through the chore. Look for ways of animating the chore to make it more fun and exciting then it has been.
Don't take games / sport with the kids too seriously. Your purpose in playing with them should be to have fun, or, depending on the game, to help them be educated. If you take the whole thing seriously, what are you teaching them? That they can't have any fun? That life is all about winning and not about relationships and interactions? What sort of useful lessons do they learn if you become grouchy because you're losing? Winning is great - in the right circumstances, but games with the kids should not focus purely on winning.
Should you spank/smack your child to discipline them? In most countries, the choice is yours. However, if you do, you give them the message that it is all right to smack when someone else does something wrong. They will transfer this to their own actions against siblings, other children, you, their mother, and even other adults. Remember, there are more effective ways to discipline.
Allowances are a great way to teach kids about the importance of money and budgeting. A general guideline for the right amount of allowance for a child is one dollar for each birthday up until ten years old. After that, $15 for 11 through 14 year olds and $20 for 15 and older.
Kids live in the immediate moment, young children especially. They can go from crying to laughing in a second. They don't carry moods around for hours on end like adults. Consequently, they don't have "bad days", "long weeks" or "sad times". Isn't there an advantage in taking a leaf from their book and sometimes living in the immediate moment?