Today’s Preschooler, Tomorrow’s Teen
by SM Ford
Do you want to have a good relationship with your children when they are teenagers? Start now.
Here’s what worked for us:
Teach them the habit of spending time with you.
Play that game she wants to play, even if you find it boring. Read him that book. Go for a walk together. Laugh together. Pretend together. Listen. Have fun. Eat at least one meal together each day and share happenings in each other’s lives.
Teach them how to learn.
Preschoolers are inquisitive. They want to know why the sky is blue or why bunnies wiggle their noses or . . . Don’t shut off that curiosity. If you don’t know the answer, google it. Your library can be an excellent resource and will probably have books on the subject at your child’s level. Or conduct experiments, such as does cocoa taste good without sugar?
Have your child pick up her toys. Don’t let him talk back to you. Make your child taste something new. Teach them manners. Let them know you are boss. Kids really do feel safer with comforting limits.
Teach them how to choose.
Let them pick a chore from several choices, what clothes to wear (within reason), which book to read, etc. Compliment them on good choices.
Let them see your respect for your spouse and family members. Respect their rights to privacy and possessions. Make sure they learn to respect privacy and possessions of others (including yours!).
If you tell him he can have a cookie, give him a cookie. If both children are supposed to do a chore, letting one “get away” with not doing it is not fair. Teach her that “fair” doesn’t mean “equal rights and privileges—it’s fair to allow a ten-year-old to cross the street without an adult, and fair that a two-year-old still gets picked up and carried when he’s too tired to walk.
Teach them about friendship.
Let them have friends over and let them spend times at friends’ homes. Correct them when they don’t treat a friend well.
Compliment them when they share or play well together. Discourage harmful relationships. Encourage positive ones.
Teach them honesty.
When you make a mistake, tell them and apologize. Be honest in your dealings with those around you. Your kids are watching what you do.
Show them how to do different tasks. When they do a good job, tell them so. Notice where they excel and point it out. It could be anything from coloring nicely, or sitting patiently in the doctor’s waiting room, to always remembering to fasten their seat belt.
Once my children became teenagers, we didn’t spend as much time together as when they were preschoolers, but they actually liked to be with us and we liked to be with them.
I remember asking my girls if they thought we were too strict. “No,” my then fourteen-year-old said, “You’re good parents.” That makes all those “but, mom, why do I have to’s”, etc. worth it!
About the Author
SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, who has also lived in the Midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can't figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.
Sue likes traveling and animals, especially those in the cat family, and has a dog and cat who own her.
You can read Sue’s “Real Parenting” column on the 4th Thursday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.