Children need a secure base. Loss of that secure base equates to trauma for the child. Without any control over their lives, children’s happiness and hope lie completely in our hands so, if this hasn’t put you into a panic I don’t know what will. But, no need for panic because, raising children can be easier than you think.
What about all those parenting books out there, though? Nothing simple needs so many manuals, right? I don’t have an answer for that but, I do know that the foundation for raising your children can be boiled down to three simple concepts.
Raising Children 1, 2, 3
1. Love Your Children
Love creates the secure base. According to Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, the first year or so of life is when infants learn to trust their caregivers. If the care is good, loving, and consistent, children develop hope. If the care is half-hearted, inconsistent, harsh, or unloving, the infant grows up mistrustful, suspicious, and anxious.
Be kind and gentle to your children. Cherish them. Don’t spoil them. Look at them when they talk to you so they know you care. Tuck them in at night with a story. Enjoy their company.
Control your anger because they don’t deserve it. Children aren’t naughty. They are telling you something when they act out so, just think for a minute and, ask them what’s on their minds. Then listen carefully. Punishment doesn’t work so just bring them close and help them.
2. Teach Your Children What They Need to Know
Confidence feels good and knowing how to solve problems makes life tolerable even when it gets tough. Let the school handle the academics except for homework. You teach your child everything else.
They need to know how to act toward other people and, they need to know how to get to know new people. Manners matter so teach them politeness and empathy and, make sure they don’t bully others, ever.
Make sure they know their rights as a human on this planet so they can assert themselves when needed. Do you know your rights?
As children get older they need to know life skills – those things we sometimes call chores. Laundry, cooking, dishes, vacuuming. Selflessness, accepting the way life is, helps children learn to help without expecting gain. Don’t forget to teach them about money, and…
- how to shop for groceries
- how to manage a bank account
- how to apply for a job
- how to write thank you notes
- how to change a tire
- how to grow food and cook
- how to ask for help
- everything you can think of that builds independence, autonomy, and confidence
3. Model What You Teach Them
Remember the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do?” Well, that is not how it works. That just lets adults off the hook for their own behavior.
Raising children means we model what we want them to learn because they watch and learn more than they listen and learn. Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory explains it all. If parents get overwhelmed when things get tough in life children will learn the same reactions. What they really need is a calm adult who advances quickly from problem focused thinking to a solution generation focus. Learning how to solve life problems builds confidence.
Children also model our general outlook on life. They will adopt realistic optimism if that’s what we show them. They will adopt anxiety and depression if that is what we demonstrate.
That’s it. I challenge you to find one aspect of parenting that can’t fit in this simple structure. What do you think about this? Do you agree it can be this simple to raise your children?