In 2011 I became a dad. Having a son was a big change in mine and my wife’s lives.
Since we have had a new family member in our home, I have been thinking about parenthood quite a bit. Although our son is still quite young (1 year and two months old when writing this), I have also been thinking about the future years of my son. Specifically, I have been thinking of all the different lessons that I can teach him as he grows up. At the same time, I have noticed that there are conflicts in the lessons that we adults teach to our children. It seems that very often what we teach is actually quite different from what we actually do.
When you look at this list, does it sound familiar?
1. Go to bed early.
We teach our kids to go to bed early, so that they can wake up alert for school or for kindergarten the next morning. Yet at the same time, we stay up late by watching television or browsing the Internet and we feel tired when we wake up. Maybe it is time to change our habits a bit, so that we go to bed earlier as well. It doesn't mean that we should go to bed at 8PM like little Johnny does. Instead, we should unwind before going to bed and try to have at least seven hours of sleep. By doing this, you are showing a good example to your children and you feel good about yourself too. Wouldn’t it be great to be as alert as a kid when he/she wakes up after well-rested, right?
2. Eat sweets on Saturdays only.
Eating sweets is unhealthy and we get holes in our teeth. That's what we tell to our kids. I remember that in my childhood, there was one specific day of the week (on Saturdays), when I could eat sweets by my parent's permission. This same sweet day still exists in many households with small children nowadays.
If this is what we teach to our children, how come we adults tend to eat snacks, sweets and other unhealthy stuff all week long – even when we only allow our kids to eat this stuff once a week? Maybe we should have a sweet day too!
Better eating habits would not only improve our health, but we would lose some weight as well and our general alertness would improve radically.
3. Put things back where they belong.
Our kids should be organized. To teach this, we ask them to put things back where they belong. Unfortunately this isn’t always so with adults. We should organize our homes in a way that things are easy to put back where they were taken from. When we have designated and accessible locations for everything, it is easier to keep the household clean instead of leaving stuff on the floor, on table tops or any other places like that.
4. Do your homework now – not at the last minute.
Teaching your kid to be proactive and take care of things right away is a very good skill to learn. However, do we parents do the same as what we teach to our kids? How many times did you do something at the last minute and in a hurry (and you did it only because there was a deadline lurking on the horizon)? Maybe the next time you should do exactly the same as what you teach to your kids. Take care of things right away by setting some time aside in your calendar. Doing this prevents you from last minute urgencies and unnecessary stress.
5. Don't yell and shout.
Please be quiet, don't yell, and don't shout. This advice is very commonly given to our kids, but it doesn’t seem to have any significance when we are interacting with other adults. We adults yell and shout at times – whether it is to our kids, our spouses or other people. Our behavior is conflicting to what we teach to our children. Although emotions are part of life, raising your voice unnecessarily should be avoided as much as possible. Maybe you want to think twice (or count to ten) before yelling at someone for whatever reason.
6. Leave your plate empty.
The idea behind this noble lesson is to teach a kid that food is valuable and it shouldn’t be wasted. Therefore, it is important to eat until one's plate is empty. How come then we require this from our children when we are throwing the food away ourselves? You don't have to fill the plate with so much food at once. Instead, take smaller portions, eat until the plate is empty and if you still feel hungry, fill your plate again. And by the way, you can teach this same thing to your kids too.
7. Don't curse.
It is important to teach our kids manners. Especially that cursing is something that should be avoided. When we tell our children to stop cursing, why are we adults doing it in our everyday talks? Especially when cursing at home, it is a sure way to teach that habit to your children as well.
Small kids are very clever. They study us adults very carefully and eventually they imitate our habits. That's why it's important to set the right example to your children, so that they don't inherit the same bad habits as we have.