How do we raise our children into healthy functioning adolescents and adults? That is a big question with plenty of possible answers. Every child is a bit different and every parent surely has a different style. And we all face different circumstances or challenges along the way. But a key point for any successful attempt at steering our children down a healthy path, I believe, has to do with being intentional. So what might that look like?
There are couple ideas worth thinking about. The first one is discipline. Many say the key to discipline is consistency and it’s true that this is very important. But doing something consistently does not make it effective. My dad used to tell me, “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”. Finding a system that works for you and your child(ren) is key, then understand what is supposed to make it work and practice it (the intended way) until it becomes second nature. Some systems of discipline I like are 1-2-3 Magic, Conscious Discipline, Nurturing a Child’s Heart, & Love and Logic. You can find these and many others online or at the library.
The other idea I wanted to mention was thinking about what children need. Besides discipline, children have a deep need for emotional connection. That’s why striking a balance between being a healthily “demanding” parent and being also a “warm” parent is ideal. When it comes to intentional connecting I’ve definitely seen examples where “a little bit goes a long way”. Many times students will present a strong need to connect to their parent. It’s amazing how often, when I’ve encouraged these students to ask for special time from a parent, even just 30 minutes a week to play a game (not a video game) or do activity together, that they come back saying that it worked and are smiling ear to ear. But I think kids do not always know how to express that without some prompting. So if you are concerned about how connected you might feel towards your child or he/she towards you, start by setting aside some special time every week. Be intentional about it.