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Coaching Your Child        < Previous        Next >

 

Are You 5-For-5 for Family Life?

 

Q. Schools say they are doing everything they can for kids, and often blame shortcomings in the home and the parents when things aren't going well for students and their schools. I want to be the best parent I can possibly be, in terms of supporting my child's education. What are the best things I can do?

 

1. Love. Give your child lots of hugs and kisses, and eye contact, and tell him or her "I love you!" every chance you get. Use affirming language, never curse words or bad names. Ask your child questions to reveal feelings. Teach your child to define and describe his or her dreams and goals. Play with your child. Take your child places and go along; don't just drop your child off and be a chauffeur. Coach a team, if you can. Host your child's friends in your home. Take your child and friends on occasional outings that combine learning with fun. Tell your family's stories over and over. Show your child you notice him or her, and are your child's No. 1 cheerleader and coach.

 

2. Work. Post a chore chart on the family's refrigerator. A good rule of thumb is one daily chore for every year your child is old. In addition to that, the child's responsibilities should include all self-care tasks such as brushing teeth and making bed, and your child should never leave the house with clothes and toys dropped on the floor of his or her room. Remember, children need coaches, not critics. Don't nag and don't yell, but DO make sure those chores get done. Teach your child HOW to clean bathrooms and scrub floors and dust furniture and do laundry and mend clothing and tend a garden and all the rest. You can build your child's self-confidence and sense of competence by teaching your child how to do housework , and spend quality time with your child in the process.

 

3. Eat together. Miriam Weinstein's book, The Surprising Power of Family Meals, shows how the simple family habit of eating meals together helps with everything from preventing eating disorders, substance abuse and promiscuity, to having a clear connection to better grades. The "power of ritual" allows children the stability and security they need in order to take the little risks that you have to take to communicate. It also gives kids a sense of identity, which is crucial in this fast-changing world.

 

4. Schedule. Your family life should have a consistent, reliable rhythm. That builds security in a child's heart. The most important thing to schedule is rest. Children need eight, nine or 10 hours of sleep per night. Make sure your household's schedule allows that. Adjust bedtimes earlier if necessary. Even on weekends and holidays, kids should get up and go to bed at about the same time. Meals should be served at about the same time. If your child is involved in so many extracurricular activities that family time is rare, you've blown it by going too far. Limit each child's out-of-school activities to two at a time to preserve family time and some semblance of peace and rest in your home. Try to make one a sport and one a cultural or educational activity, such as piano lessons or math tutoring. You can allow one hour a day for TV, video games and IM'ing. Schedule one hour a week to go to the public library, and you go with your child and check out books, too. Last, but not least: chores. Get them scheduled, and see that they are done!

 

5. Spiritual. Make sure your child gets religious training, and learns about the importance of service to others. It's the best way to make sure your child isn't spoiled and self-indulgent. Someone wise once compared a healthy life to a piano bench with four sturdy legs: your physical well-being, your mental life, your emotional experiences . . . and your spiritual development. If any of the four of those are short-changed, you'll be out of balance. Don't let anything come between your child and God. If you have to work on Sundays, call the church and see if someone can pick up your child for Sunday School and bring him or her home. Your child will benefit from the mentoring of church volunteers and youth ministry staff, and they don't just work in Christian houses of worship, but in all religions and ministries or service organizations that are alongside of religions but not actually a part of them, such as Habitat for Humanity.

 

Homework: Find excellent advice from Focus on the Family, www.family.org

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.ShowandTellforParents.com Coaching Your Child 01 2008

 

 

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