Parenting Vivian | 20 Feb 2010 07:41 am

Effective Parenting Skills – Helping Our Children Make Good Choices

How can we as parents help our children make good choices? How do we prepare our children to think for themselves so that they can ultimately do this? Well, beginning at about age 7, children begin to experience the “age of reason,” when they begin to be able to truly tell the difference between right and wrong. Ultimately, with parenting, this culminates at about the age of 18, where bona fide prudence comes into play.

David Isaacs, Ph.D., who is a Spanish educator, offers this suggestion: parents should establish the foundation for prudence by instilling four good habits during the first seven years of their children’s lives. These include: obedience, order, sincerity and justice.

These first four habits are the foundation for what will become the present development of other good habits during these next three phases, which are: charity and fortitude or courage, which occurs between the ages of about 8 to 12; faith and temperance, or self-control, which occurs between the ages of about 13 to 15; and hope and prudence, or sound judgment, which develops around young adulthood, between ages of 16 to 18, roughly. Dr. Isaacs believes that those who develop these virtues will automatically find happiness and maturity in their lives.

To break these down further, we briefly discuss these habits in some detail: Obedience: Obedience means that the parents establish an authority at home such that it minimizes chaos, including clutter, sickness, hunger, shouting, disrespect, violence or rebellion. Although this in one respect may seem tolerable and even normal in infants and toddlers, it cannot be allowed to continue because as you can probably tell, it would become intolerable in adolescents and grown ups. Those in authority must establish such boundaries early on so that power plays do not occur between, for example, parents and adolescents, when authority is necessarily much more challenged. Young children will learn to listen to their parents as the authority, while parents themselves will make sure to exercise self-control enough that their demands are both reasonable and respectful. Children are also to be extended explanations to common rules of the house or the reasons for punishment, for example. There should be consistent, regular and clear communication between parents and children, such that there are no surprises and pleasure/displeasure, approval/disapproval, happiness or sadness is openly expressed and without manipulation. In this way, the family value system is validated and is more likely to be respected later in life. If it is not consistent and respectful, children are much more likely to reject it later on.

Sincerity: Sincerity must be modeled properly for children by parents at home. What sincerity means is that you tell the truth in the proper time and situation. Children must integrate it and use it in the context of helping people they care about improve, out of charity and justice. Children prefer this kind of home environment to one that is chaotic or otherwise negative.

If children grow up amidst lies and chaos, rife with bad habits or vices and inconsistent values, they may turn cynical and become selfish instead of becoming a participant in the success of their own family, and ultimately their larger community. By doing so, they delay or even negate their own chances for true happiness. Of course, no good parent truly wants this to happen.

It is therefore crucial for parents to expose their children to consistent standards and true goodness, in order to encourage their children in their potential abilities and talents, so that those children know what the truth is and love goodness. This can best happen by using the following two interdependent but separate powers of the intellect. Every person possesses these, and because of these, we are all accountable. They are:

Order: Order provides everyone involved in the family, but especially young children, a consistent sense of stability and security, since things are done in an orderly fashion and at the “proper” place and time. If children are not given this type of structure, they can experience disorder. If this becomes a constant occurrence, it can disrupt a child and put him off balance. This can also affect his caregiver, his schedule, his bedtime and everything about his day. Parents, too, need to have order so that they can preserve their own sense of well-being and stay sane. Affection, when used in the proper context with reasoning, can help make sure that family members get along well and are happy.

Justice: Children value justice because they naturally seek what is fair within the realm of their parents’ time and love as they compete with their siblings, parents’ work, and other parental distractions that demand the parents’ attention. They need to understand fairness in regard to what is important and what is due to them or others. They expect adults in their lives to apply rules and structure fairly. If the parent does not do so, children may rebel and ultimately defy both authority figures and rules set forth for them.

Simply, children must be reassured that life and the rules therein are fair; they should also make sense to children. Children at this age need to see things as they are rather than as they seem to be, so that they can develop their own sense of values and their personal moral code.

Communication Tip If you are a parent who needs to speak with your young child or with a group of young children, establish eye contact and hold them closely if appropriate. It’s preferable to be at eye level, in order to maintain direct communication and establish rapport. Parents can squat, bend over or kneel to get to the childrens level, or the child can sit on their lap. When you are talking with the child, disregard other activities and use the time for one-on-one attention.

Besides doing this, use a calm and soothing tone of voice to give instructions, or a firm serious one to discipline. If you smile or laugh when children do wrong, or if you are indifferent or angry when they do right, children will be confused and may ultimately not develop good habits and self-control. Remember that the ultimate goal is to have a strong sense of self, a strong moral code, and self-discipline.

Even young children can start learning the difference between fact and opinion, important and not so important, cause-and-effect, family or friend, problems and solutions, male and female, right and wrong, public versus private, what one’s rights and duties are, life-threatening versus non-life-threatening, safe versus dangerous, or eternal and temporal. There are many other distinctions that can be made and included in this list. Of course, parents can always consult a trusted friend or family member, or other authority such as pediatrician, child psychiatrist, etc., as needs defines. As you continue, both parents and children will understand their own personal value system and can communicate clearly with from within the same system to each other.

Finally, self-reflection is a most important habit that too many people do not develop. As you engage in this practice regularly, you should ask the following three questions: What did I do right in this situation? What did I do wrong in this situation? What can I do better in this situation?… Discount Baby Clothes, Gifts and Toys Australia” – The online baby & kids clothing boutique where we connect you with…The best available price for, kids clothing, baby wear, designer baby clothing, designer kids clothing, boutique babywear, blankets, shoes & boots, nursery equipment, nappies, baby gifts, bags, bibs, books, feeding, toys, and MUCH MORE! Discount Baby Clothes Click Here Now

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