#2: Your Child's Heart
The second thing that you as a parent or anyone that has a major role in a child's life should not take for granted his his/her heart. I don't mean their physical heart, however important that it is. I mean how they feel. All children have open hearts toward all people from the time they are born and on through life as long as their teachers who shape their lives do not teach them otherwise. Children have deep love for everyone around them unless someone does something to alter that. A child that is hurt physically or emotionally by someone is less inclined to love that person, just like an adult. Be considerate of your child's feelings. Listen when they talk, and even if it isn't something that interest's you, at least pay attention and listen to what they say and maybe even try to learn something. If your child comes to you on a rare occasion and wants to buy his friend a gift because his friend is sad or just because he wants to, then encourage that! Your child has a great heart! Don't forget to praise your child for that kindness.
#1: The Power of a Young Mind
The young mind is a wonder. Children's minds are like blank sheets of paper when they are born up to the age of 5. As parents you have the great responsibility of programming their minds. Granted, as they grow they will also become more independent and be their own individuals if they are free to do so, but you as the parent give them a starting point, a foundation on which to start and grow. From the foundation that they are "programmed" with they will base their entire lives. So if you program them with mean, hateful words and disrespect people around you, then be prepared to have children that eventually are disrespectful and mean tempered. There are exceptions to this however. There are many children that despite how they have been brought up overcome it all and are the most sweet tempered, caring individuals that there are. This is their own character that shows forth, their own personalities that overcome their negative circumstances. If you as the parent recognize this great responsibility of shaping your child's mind you have done a good thing. Realizing this key factor is like the first step in admitting an addiction, its the first step to success. The next step is helping their potential to grow and thrive. Give your child opportunities to find out what they are interested in, what their passions are and then build upon that. If they seem to have a knack for drawing then get them the tools they need to expand on that knack, like buying them books on drawing tips, drawing pencils or charcoals, whatever works to increase their interest. If later down the road that particular interest fades out and is replaced by say a sport, then start encouraging their new interest. The old interest wasn't a waste of time because every thing a child learns will be a part of who they are and may be something they go back to later on in life. Never take for granted the power of your child's mind, it is one of the most powerful things on earth and how you shape it as they grow is what they draw on as adults.
#3: Your Child's Potential
I touched on this a bit in paragraph one but I was to say a little more on this. The definition of potential is having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future. Now we know that all children have potential and many have potential in several different areas. We as parents should encourage every facet of their interest and work with their natural potential so that they can be who they were meant to me. Be observant of their interest and then give them the tools and support they need to grow in that area. I have 5 children and each one has potential in different areas. One of my children is very good at drawing and building, another at mechanics, and yet another at dancing. If I encourage my children in these areas of interest someday I may have a professional dancer on Broadway or an engineer. If you don't support and allow their areas of interest then your child will become frustrated and with frustration comes anger and with anger comes violence in some cases. Be the one to help your child be who they were made to be.
#4: Your Child's Language
All of us as parents are going to hear those things that we don't like to hear come out of our children's mouths on occasion. It is inevitable. It is a part of growing up. However, if you allow your child to express herself in mean, uncaring, and disrespectful ways as very young children it will only get worse as they get older. Take the time when your children are very young to enforce kind, respectful language and manners of talking. Children need to know that other people have feelings too and lashing out and using hateful words or making mean comments is not appropriate behavior. Our children will follow our examples and yes they will say that curse word they heard you spout off in a fit of rage when you were in the car, and they will call you the same foul word that you called them because they spilled their red drink on the living room carpet. Be careful what you say and how you say it because they do pick up on everything and they will mimic your actions. Get a hold on their language when they are young and you will save yourself many headaches in the future.
#5: Your Child's Attitude
We have all seen the attitude, especially if you have pre-teen and teen children. Even younger children get that look that says "who do you think you are?" when we tell them to do something they don't want to do. Do not overlook this! It is very important that bad attitudes are nipped in the bud as quickly as possible. It is a tough thing to do. Especially when our children are getting older and more independent. This is another one of those things that you should work on with your kids from a very early age to prevent worse problems in the future. When you tell your child to go and clean his room and his immediate response is pitching a fit and scowling and muttering under his breath then you know its time for intervention. Don't just threaten your child with punishments. Follow through otherwise he is just going to think that your all talk and no action which encourages his bad behavior. I have a chart in my house and when I see that attitude I first give a warning. "If your attitude doesn't change real quick your name is gonna be on the chart." To my children this means straighten up and fly right or I'm going to have something I enjoy taken away. Something like tv, gaming options, and even sleepovers with friends being postponed till I decide best. For some children this doesn't work that well. I have one child that gets the point much quicker if he is made to stand in a corner for 5 minutes. There has to be consequences for a bad attitude or you as the parent can expect a real battle on your hands when your child is a teenager. Teach them now to control themselves and when the harder years come maybe they won't be so hard. On the bright side of attitude's we can also encourage good ones. Be happy yourself! Enjoy life! Be happy to get up every morning (even if you really aren't) and try to see the silver lining in everything around you. This is something your children will pick up on and begin to copy. They may not at first but give it time and before long your will notice your child following in your footsteps and then it will all be worth it.
#6: Your Child's Abilities
This is an area I have had a lot of experience with. I am constantly worried that my children aren't able to do things that in fact they really can do very well. For example, my five year old daughter is very independent and has always been this way. She wants to do things for herself without help very often and it can lead to many messes. This is especially true for her wanting to help herself to getting food and drinks. She would continually be getting into the refrigerator to get a drink or fix peanut butter and jelly. Even though she knew that if she asked I would get her what she wanted it didn't matter, her independence needed to be dominant. Then one day while I was off doing one of the many chores us parents have to do, I walked into the kitchen to find her at the counter pouring a cup of juice. Now in order for her to do this she first had to get a chair in order to reach a cup. Instead of me doing what my impulses told me to do, which was to run and grab the juice and do it myself, I forced myself to stop and wait. I watched to see how well she did and I was surprised to find that she did very well and didn't spill any of the juice or over-fill the cup and she was grinning when she noticed that I saw her and I was smiling at her success. Many times we as parents have to force ourselves to just stop and wait and watch. There will be plenty of times where our concerns are well-founded but there are many times where you will be the one that was wrong. There was a time when my other daughter was on a mission to get me to teach her how to make coffee. She was only six at the time and I didn't think she was old enough or capable to make coffee and she didn't really need to anyway. After about a month of her insistence on me teaching her, I did cave and taught her how to put the filter in and measure out the exact amount of coffee grounds to the appropriate amount of water. To my utter amazement the next morning my smart little sweetheart had gotten up before I had and had made me a pot of coffee. Before long she was wanting to know what I liked in my coffee and a few mornings later I again awoke to the smell of coffee and beside me on the nightstand was a cup of hot coffee just the way I like it! Do not underestimate your children's abilities because I guarantee you that you will be shocked.
#7: Your Child's Advice
You might be thinking how in the world is it right to take the advice of a child, but think about it, children are pure, their minds are not crowded with all the what if's and doubts that the adult mind is. They have a way of seeing the good and knowing what the right way is in many cases. Now I'm not saying that you should go to your child for all the answers but if your child offers a bit of intuition, then I say listen with open ears because you may be surprised by what you hear. Children have a way of making decisions simple without fear or doubts. Now we know that children are also impulsive which is something that has its pro's and con's for adults. You have to discern in your situation whether that trait will be good or not. Even if your child's insight isn't what you feel is right way don't down play it. Recognize your child is concerned or wants to help you and praise her for her consideration and thoughtfulness.
#8: Your Child's Love
This is similar to #2 but has its differences. This paragraph is going to focus more on your child's relationships. Your son comes home from school and he is fawning over a cute little brunette in his class. He thinks he is in love and there is no way you are going to talk him out of it. Whatever you do, do NOT make him feel like he is silly or stupid. This is a big mistake. Your child has feelings! Ok, so maybe it isn't real love. Maybe it is an infatuation, a crush, but don't put him down because he expresses his feelings or he will turn to someone besides you the next time he has "special" news. I want to know what my kids are thinking, I want to know what they are feeling and I want to be able to help those relationships and his views about them to be healthy. So maybe this crush will only last a month. That isn't the important thing. The important thing is being there and listening and still being able to give advice on what to do or what not to do. Our children need guidance in this area. This is a whole new ballgame to them and we need to be there for them with a non-judging, supportive attitude when they want to talk. They are excited and happy and want to share their news with us and we need to be there with open arms understanding that they have feelings too.
Daniel Bixby from Stottville, New York on December 23, 2013:
Awesome Job Lady and again amazing writing talents and ability to make a person feel your words!
Jamie Butler (author) from Hudson, New York on December 23, 2013:
Thank you so much Rock_nj, I really appreciate your comment.
John Coviello from New Jersey on December 22, 2013:
Great insight regarding how to raise a child. You are an excellent writer. Keep up the good work!