Everyone is going to think I have a “thing” with the number 5 and I’ve only been blogging for less than a year! I swear I don’t, it just has worked out that way.
I’ve had the discussion with other parents before about the important things personally to me that I’ve taught my daughter. Meaning, what have I wanted to instill in her in her life?
It also was brought up when I was at conferences. One of her Teachers asked me, “What did you do with her to make her such a great girl?”
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. No complaining.
At a very young age, I was really specific about not letting her complain (it must be a natural tendency, because it seemed like she did it on her own. LOL.) For instance if it was a rainy day, I would say to her right away, “Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean it’s not a good day. A rainy day is JUST as good as a sunny day.” It might seem like an odd thing to teach her, but it seemed like a great way to introduce her to not complaining; I figured if I started with something so basic like the weather, it would prepare her for more serious things in life that she would most definitely be complaining about. The weather was something basic I could begin with. And it worked — this girl rarely complains to this day! (But trust me, we all need to vent and let me tell you, she has her moments!)
2. No negative words.
I’m talking not even ‘Idiot’. Not even ‘Shut Up‘! or ‘Stupid’. To me, those words are just as negative as a swear word. They don’t sound positive at all, and my goal is to bring my daughter up as positive as possible, in a world that is so negative. I want her bringing good in the world and being GOOD to people. And I think if everyone would admit it, they’d agree that those words do not sound positive — and the people hearing those words said to them don’t feel good about it.
3. Being a friend to all.
There is so much “outcast” stuff going on in schools and such that I thought this one was crucial to teach her. It also goes along with kindness. I want her to befriend and be kind to people with disabilities, kids of different ethnicities, and other groups (which is a pet peeve of mine, by the way), such as ‘nerds,’ ‘jocks,’ and ’emo’s’ — all of ’em. I brought my daughter up to tear down that wall of division, and told her no matter who she is good friends with or who she hangs around, that she needed to make an effort to be a friend to all her classmates.
Being polite in my opinion is one of the easiest things to teach a child. It has to come at an early age, as most of these 5 things do, but it is something that can be taught with consistence and persistence. Things as simple as, “Please and Thank you,” “You’re Welcome,” and asking permission. Asking is important because it shows healthy boundaries between the child and the parent. It shows that the child can’t just do whatever, whenever. It’s so cool because manners sort of ends up turning into respect later in life. I see now with my daughter being a Sophomore that she is very respectful to her teachers and other adults.
Bringing our kids up to understand Empathy and Compassion is HUGE. Helping them see that everyone has a story, and that everyone suffers in their own way helps our kids to be more understanding when they otherwise might not be. It gives them a bigger picture into real life issues — a world bigger than their own. And it can soften their hearts.
Teaching my daughter this and living by example can give our kids a new way to think about others. It also helps them realize that they need compassion, too. And I think if we realize that we want and need compassion, then it’s a little easier to give it.
About Gina Norma
Gina Norma grew up in St. Paul MN, and enjoys art, reading, traveling, thrift shopping, picnics, volunteering and spending time with her 17-year-old. One day she hopes to go to Italy, attend college, and solve world hunger. Gina says, “To me, parenting is all about building relationships with our kids and walking along side them — not trying to control them or use shame.” You can read Gina’s blog at www.walkwithyourteen.blogspot.com.