There are a lot of resources dedicated to children. Governments dedicate so much to children that a lot of your taxes are paid to build solid education systems aimed at enhancing children. Everyone wants kids to have a successful and happy life.
For many years, I was part of that system and I still work with children a lot, but I believe that if we really want to give them a successful and happy life we need to pay attention to those who do not go to school every day, but who are more important – the parents.
When I studied education, we discussed the influence that various “agents” had on kids. Well, what do you know? Parents have the greatest influence on their kids’ life.
In Israel, there is a form of communal living called “Kibbutz”, where children live in a room with other kids almost from birth and are being cared for by a carer.
In that arrangement, parents came to spend time with their kids before and after work, met them for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the communal dining hall but the kids spent most of their life with their carers and friends and hardly ever slept at “home”.
A research over 40 years found the most amazing thing – although those kids spent fairly little time together with their parents, all of them declared that their parents had the biggest influence on their life.
Teachers can teach kids the greatest things on earth, but if this creates a conflict of values, interests, needs or beliefs with what happens at home, the teaching is doomed to fail. With this understanding, we can do two things:
- Complain that some parents are a pain (good excuse not to change anything)
- Help them be the best parents they can be to make sure that home is in alignment with school
Now you tell me, as an educator, what would you choose?
Or, as a parent, what would you choose?
Well, I chose the second option, both as an educator and as a parent.
For me, teaching kids without considering their parents is a waste of time and energy and in some respects an abuse of power (how many times it happened to you that the teacher told you what you can or cannot say, do or tell your own kid and that she/he knows what is best for them?)
I believe that
Happy Kids = Happy Parents and Happy Parents = Happy Kids
Here is what you can do if you want to have happy kids:
- Work on your self-confidence as a parent. It will be a model of self- confidence for your kids.
- Focus on your internal motivation. Do things because you believe in them, not because someone forces you to do them. This will teach your kids self-motivation.
- Count and advertise your achievements. It will teach your kids to be proud of you and proud of themselves.
- Have a good relationship with your own parents. It will teach your kids that this is important.
- Have a good relationship with your siblings. It will pass on your family values to your kids.
- Dedicate time and effort to your relationships with your friends. Great friends are important to have in life. Be a live example for friendship. Parents with good social skills have kids with good social kids.
- Acceptance and tolerance are important to your emotional wellbeing. If you want to see this in your kids, show them yourself first!
- Work on your sense of belonging. Spend time with family, friends, social, cultural, hobby or religious groups. It will help your kids feel connected to a bigger group.
- The #1 factor of emotional intelligence is a good understanding of self. If you want kids with high EQ, learn to understand yourself. It will help your kids understand themselves better.
- Learn ways to manage your emotions. If you cannot do this, do not be surprised your kids cannot either. Be a role model!
- If you want kids to be efficient, learn good time management skills. If you are good with your time, you will raise kids who use the same tricks and are convinced that this is how to live life.
- If you want to have responsible children, be a responsible parent. Do not blame them for your failures, do not blame them for your lack of sleep and do not blame them for your lack of money. You chose to bring them into this life, so take the responsibility.
- If you want kids to appreciate learning, do the same, even if you are far away from school, learn something new, always learn something, read if you want them to read. Learn if you want them to learn.
- If you want your kids to appreciate their abilities, start with yours. Write down a list of all the things you appreciate and like about your life and notice you have a lot. This thing will help your kids see the good stuff in their life too.
- If you want to have kids that share their thoughts with you tell them about your achievements, successes, disappointments and sadness. Show them you are human. It will help them express themselves better. This may not seem that important when they are kids, because they tell you a lot of what goes on in their head, but when they become teens, it will be very important.
- If you want appreciative kids, be appreciative in your attitude. Count your blessings and teach them that it is important to look at the full half of the glass. We have ceremonies of appreciation around the dinner table. It is absolute magic. Try it.
- Work on your own happiness if you want to have happy kids. Define happiness and set a course towards it. Be goal oriented and teach your kids to be the same. Happiness is a choice, so choose happiness and your kids will follow.