25 ways to instill good values and habits in children!
Growing up in the outskirts of Mumbai with my parents, grandparents and uncle, my childhood memories are like those beautiful shimmering stars in the moonlit sky. My thatha (maternal grandfather in Tamil) always used to say to us “Work while you work and play while you play!”
It was me and my younger sister who got the maximum pampering from him. His radiating face with a welcoming smile to one and all, his love for reading, impeccable handwriting, story telling abilities and forgiving nature was something that made him a respectable and genuine person I have ever met through my entire life. But the real reason I am writing about him and my family is to pen down the parenting values and habits which they taught us either through their word of advice or through their actions.
So here are 25 great tips for parents for instilling some good values and behavior in children to raise them as morally sound individuals with great characteristics.
- Plan and adhere to a schedule: Creating a fixed timeline right from waking up till you end the day not only sorts the daily chores but also helps adults to have ample amount of time for self and family. So if planning your day is fruitful, why not create one for your child and help him/ her implement the same and teach the perks of it.
- Be an early riser! I know it is easier said than done. I used to be a cranky child when I had to get up early and scrape through the day. Luckily for me, Ayaansh is always a happy riser irrespective of the time I wake him up. A smile on his lips when his eyes are still shut is a reminder that I am a blessed mother. Anyways, we know that getting up early gives us a long day to execute our plans and lead a fulfilling day ahead. Again, parents need to set example by getting up early and ticking off their lists for the day and by making it a gradual habit in our children’s lives too. This will definitely make them successful and energetic individuals in the long run.
- Be a Role Model: Right from the womb a baby depends upon his/her mother for existence. And finally when the day arrives for the baby to see the outside world, he/she is surrounded by en-number of people, yet the baby seeks familiarity and settles with the mother. As the baby develops, the father becomes the next person from whom the baby understands love and seeks approvals in his/her action. So as per the Sanskrit saying ‘Matah Pitah Guruh Daivam’ the parents are automatically the role models our babies look upto! So let us practice what we preach and demonstrate the good virtues like discipline, honesty, politeness, etc. and be a role model, an inspiration to our little ones.
- Set Ground Rules: As parents, we are often faced with dilemma whether to say YES or NO to our little one’s demands. Their puppy faces with expectations from us surely melts our hearts, but many times it does burn our pockets or make them feel that their parents would never say no to them. Today what may seem as a petty issue would emerge as a huge problem in the future. Children won’t be able to take a NO from others. So, it is our duty as parents to set some ground rules, and be firm in it. It is necessary for us and for them to understand the thin line between a YES or NO and not take us granted. Mistakes can be forgiven by explaining them about their actions and sometimes a Timeout is indeed a requisite. Likewise, when things go well appreciate and reward them by giving them a pat on the back, hugs and kisses. Reserve materialistic things such new toys, books, clothes, etc. for occasions.
- Be realistic in your expectations: While we parents want to give the best of everything to our children, we tend to impose our dreams and aspirations on the little ones. Our expectations become too high and we end up showing the frustrated side of our parenting on them. It not only makes them quiver with fear but also damages their inner confidence and the trust they have on us. Hence, it is imperative that we as parents consider our little one’s dream, understand and carve a path for them. Let them spread their wings and fly. Do not hold them back with your expectations and blame them for your disappointments. Also, ensure if at all they fall from the height that you are below to hold them and lift their spirits up again.
- Adopting a competitive spirit: We all belong to the era, where life is a race and everyone wants to emerge as a winner. We often work hard to achieve what is beyond us, letting the small joys of our life untouched and end up feeling like looser if we don’t get to score the goal first. We forget various relationships in achieving in our goals and end up being frustrated, confused and depressed. So, just imagine our children’s plight when they see us loosing hope, blaming others for our failures. We impart a learning where winning is the only thing that matters and the chain continues with the coming generations.
Instead, step back and reassign your goals, create short term achievable goals and celebrate your life. Teach your children that in life participation is more important than winning a game. Teach them that emerging as a winner is a great feeling but if one looses, it is just another stepping stone. Competition is important in life to keep us going but family and relationships are far more important for our existence.
- Be involved: The joy of getting a tight hug from the little miracles in our life when we return back from work is exceptional and can never be compared with anything else. Then comes the tiny voice that says, “now that you are home, come, play with me!” and the chatting continues non-stop. These little energy busters narrate their entire day with all the minuscule details in it. A nod from us and our reciprocation makes them feel that they are in the top of the world. Our kids love us more than anything else in the world and no one or no material things can give them the joy when they feel the love, warmth and approval from us. So parents, let us be involved in their lives by hearing them out patiently, for that is the only thing they seek from us.
- Respect Food and Eat Healthy: As a foodie, I love experimenting with various cuisines and love to eat out as much as home cooked food. But given an option of devouring the best cooked food in town versus my nani’s simple lunch, the latter would be a straight winner. That is only because right from childhood, my nani has always told us to respect the food we eat, treat food as annapoorneshwari devi and not waste her over petty preferences. Every grain of food in the plate is finished off before getting up from the dining space. The same has been for vegetables and other items in our plate.
Today as a mother, I have inculcated the same values in my son and have taught him to respect every morsel and made him realise how privileged we are as compared to the people in the other side of the world. My son loves home cooked food, prefers his veggies over the junk food and never puts a tantrum to grab some outside food. He understands my reason behind the denial of certain foods and adjusts himself accordingly. Teach your children the concept of eating healthy and trust me, they understand and co-operate without any tantrums. Also, teach them the importance of drinking water from time-to-time. It not only helps them to keep hydrated but also helps in overall metabolism, keeping away the stomach ailments at bay.
- Meal time is family time: A family that eats together, stays together! This is wonderful practice that helps children bond with their family. Enjoy the meal time together with your family by helping each other with the servings or by occasionally feeding each other. This practice brings joy to the heart and creates a harmonious environment in the family. Remember even in THE BIG BANG THEORY they used to eat together and that is one aspect that kept them all close till the last scene. With children, we have to ensure that we serve them the same things we eat so that they feel one with us.
- Pray together: Praying is one thing that gives your soul some peace during the day. Teach your children the importance of prayer and include a prayer time in your schedule as per your religion. Praying not only gives us peace, but also helps children with pronunciation(especially shlokas), making them focused and creates an inclination towards one’s own culture and tradition. It also helps children develop spiritual mind by channelizing their abundant energy makes them have a calm and composed demeanor. Also, praying together brings in positivity in the household.
- Physical Activity: Kids need no introduction to physical activity. They run, hop, skip and jump through the day and still remain energetic at sleep time. Trust me, my son says this to us every night that he still feels energetic(phew!) and we are already halfway asleep. So, what do we need to do in this case? Practices like yoga, meditation and pranayams during the first half helps them to control this overflowing energy and regulate it through the day by making them physically and mentally healthy. This way by the end of the day, they also tend to have good sleep.
- Inculcate Responsibilities: We parents have a tendency to think that our kids irrespective of their age are still our little babies. But do you know, even the newborns like their freedom and want to touch and hold things by themselves rather than we shoving it in their tiny palms. I remember as a child, my uncle used to take me to various places showing me around so that I am aware of everything that exists and adapt to it. He gave me the courage to step out alone and buy things we needed from nearby stores. Back then, it never felt like a big deal but now as a mother, I am very much skeptical sending my child alone even to a neighbor’s house. It might be because of the times we live in, yet I know that I am not ready to let go of the feeling that my child is not big enough to take his own responsibility. Having said this, let me tell you different ways that we can teach them responsibility:
- Asking them to make up their own beds and folding the sheets after they are awake.
- Teaching them how to brush their teeth, wash face, hands and legs (the pandemic is an evidence on how quickly children across the globe adopted to staying indoors and washing their hands frequently).
- Training them to put their toys, books and colors at respective places.
- Teaching them how to clean the mess after an art-craft session.
- Teaching them to put their plates and spoons in the sink after the meal. If the child is above 5 years, we can also train them to clean their own plates.
- If the child is above 5 years, they can self bathe under supervision.
- Giving the option to choose their own clothes.
- Asking them to put dirty clothes in the laundry bag.
- Teaching them how to fold their own clothes and keep it in a rack.
- Additionally, they can help you with household chores like washing vegetables, drying the vessels and putting them back, by putting pegs on clothes to dry, gardening, etc.
- Teaching the value of money: This is a very important parenting aspect in raising a responsible child. We have often seen a wailing child and petrified mother pulling the child out of a toy store. Children often get tempted by the colorful toys found in the store and get attracted to them like magnets. This happens because they don’t understand the concept of money and its value. So its high time that we teach them about money and why it matters.
A piggy bank can be given to a child telling him that whichever day he/she is on the best behavior, they get to put a penny inside. And when the box is full, they can count the money in it and buy gifts for themselves or for others. This will motivate them to be on their best behavior at all times. Also, while shopping for groceries and provisions you can provide them with information on how tomatoes were affordable the day before and you brought them and now since it has become expensive by an ‘x’ amount you have not brought it today. This little comparison teaches them quantification and prioritization in their own way.
- Sharing is Caring: Have you seen a child who refuses to let go off the swing even after swinging for a long time and your child pleading to him and helplessly looking at you to intervene? This is a situation where you look for the child’s mother to request her to speak with her son. But often, the other parent is least bothered by the child’s behavior and busy chatting around. You seem to lose your cool, and think about how insensitive the family is towards others. You somehow pacify your child and move on with other games in the garden. But looking back with a calm mind, I have realized that the parent is to be blamed in this case and not the child.
Children need to be taught what does it mean to share, the joy of giving things to others. One can often take their children to an under-privileged home / school and ask your child to share the gifts with the children present there and experience the pleasure of giving. Luckily for me, Ayaansh has always loved having people around and is more than happy to give his toys and books for others to play and read. I have often faced the sensitive side of Ayaansh when he realizes the other person is not ready to share his/her stuff and often returns teary-eyed. We are gradually getting him to know that it is okay if the other person is not ready to share. We have even told him that a person who shares, cares for the person and will make more friends. This has definitely made him understand the concept of sharing is caring.
- Gentle behavior towards animals & birds: Parents have the duty to teach the little ones how to be compassionate towards all the living beings by letting them explore the nature. When a child learns about animals and birds by either seeing them in a zoo or a petting park, the child experiences a gush of emotions inside him/her. Simple practices at home like filling a bowl of water for sparrows and crows in the window grill is enough for them to understand the concept of humanity or selflessness in us. We have taken Ayaansh to jungle safaris so that he can actually experience the wilderness and have his own learning.
- Courteous, Unbiased approach: The world is moving towards acquiring more and more power and the poor, less powerful are overstepped each day. Teach your children to be humble towards all fellow human beings. There is nothing wrong if your child greets the building watchmen/ vendor or maids by calling them uncle and aunties. I have seen many rich parents who yell at their children if they speak to any of the helpers. This parental behavior makes children biased, arrogant, disrespectful and inhumane towards the lower strata of the society. It is advisable to teach them about community helpers and how we can help them in their times of need. Children see us and learn everything. So let us be humble in our approach, polite and respectful and most importantly respect others.
- Smart thinking: Children are smart and we as parents very well know that. But as they grow, being exposed to various things mixed with our do’s and don’ts, they tend to lose their clarity of thoughts. With the life race, many of them stay behind in their respective shells and don’t explore the brilliant part of their brain. Instead teach your children to be brave and help them to deal with their problems on their own. Throw a googly at them every often and let them work out the solution. We often role play at home asking help from our little one to see him offer his solutions to the problem. Include them when you are making any decisions for your home or planning a trip, etc. You can also ask them about what they want to gift their friends on their birthdays and ask them to come up with a rationale behind it. These little brains work wonders and they will never cease to amaze you with their thinking ability.
- Honesty: One of the most important qualities for being a good human being is honesty. Being honest or truthful is a virtue that when one possesses the rest of the good virtues are bound to follow. Teach your children to be honest in whatever they do. It can be their homework, or about an incident, let them never give any excuses. Teach them to be straightforward in their approach. For elder kids, tell them that they are your best friends and besties never keep a secret from another. Give them the confidence that you are there for them when they need you the most.
- Patience: The most challenging virtue is patience and it is indeed tough to be patient. Nevertheless, patience is the key to a calm mind helping us to solve any problems we face in our lives. So teach your children from the time they are young that patience indeed pays off. A simple demonstration by standing in a queue to buy a ticket, or cheerfully waiting on a line in a cafe to grab your sandwich or by demonstrating how you finish off your work once you begin it, howmuchever time it takes to wrap up are all simple ways to teach our little ones. We can also patiently wait till the time they take to finish of their homework, or keep their colors back in, solve puzzles, etc.
- Gratitude: ‘Please’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Thank You’ are the most important words a child must learn when he/she is young. Use them in your conversation so that the child can hear, understand and feel the depth of the words. If you are interrupting their playtime, by asking them to eat or drink, tell them, “Sorry to disturb you, but will you please finish your glass of milk so that mumma can get back to work?” See the wonder with your eyes and lastly don’t forget to thank them for being so obedient. Give them a hug or a kiss! Ta-daa, the magic is done!
- Hygiene: This word has gained popularity over the last few months more than the Dalgona Coffee. We have seen a huge spike in the number of brands that have come up with hygiene solutions. Teaching personal hygiene to our children is mandatory and as well as practicing it. Inculcating the basic hygiene like brushing the teeth twice, washing hands frequently and watching your steps while walking outside are all the basics we need to teach them from the very beginning.
- Developing reading habits: Reading books is a joy that can’t be compared with any other skill set. Read to your children when they are young and make it a part of your daily schedule. In the long run, your children will be great readers and will have all the worldly wisdom. (A detailed post coming up soon).
- Listening to music: Music exists in every action we do. And right from the womb, babies love music. So ensure, your children are exposed to different music and variety of instruments. Let the little ones experience music in nature too. Talk to them about the variety of sounds we hear in our daily lives. Have a jamming session with them. Allocate some time for listening to music everyday. Make music a part of your children’s lives.
- Expressing through dance: Dancing is therapeutic and is also one of the best ways to exhibit one’s energy. Let your children dance to the beats. Encourage them to pursue it if they seem to be very much interested in it. For younger kids, a simple dance about animals and birds is fun and engaging. Watch shows or talk about dancers who can be an inspiration to them.
- Sleep! This is one aspect that adults find deficient in their lives and children find trouble getting into. We as a generation lack energy only because we often forget that our body needs energy to function. We adults overwork our body and mind, invite the diseases over and conveniently complain that we are sleep deprived. The reality is we ignore all the body signals and abuse it to the core. And alas when we are tired, our little energy-balls at home wants us to feel fresh and play with them all through the night. And, we end up cribbing about our kids and their lack of ability to fall asleep. So, ensure you fix your bedtime and follow a routine. Initially, it is going to be a tough task but in the long run if you form a daily habit with your kids, you will have better sleep and feel fresh the next day.