Recently, I started allowing my daughter to visit a friend of hers in the neighborhood on her own (i.e. without me walking her there and coming to take her home). My biggest fear was one of safety, so we had a serious discussion about how she would get there and back (e.g. on the grass versus the road, check both ways before crossing the street, etc.). I knew that this was an opportunity for her to practice the safety skills I had taught her, but what I didn’t realize until later, was just how good a lesson in time management this was going to be for my daughter. We started out by determining the time that she should be home. Since she was going to be fully responsible for getting home at the agreed upon time, she was going to have to wear her watch and consult it regularly. If she was going to be late, she was to call (note: I didn’t want to encourage tardiness, so I let her know that this should be the exception, not the rule). I also made it clear that she should never break any safety rules in an effort to get home in time (safety is always more important that punctuality). The first time, she was a little late because she hadn’t factored in the time it would take to clean up. This was a perfect ‘teachable moment’ – she learned that she needed to stop playing in time to clean up (she also learned that cleaning up always takes longer than you think it will). She ended up going back to her friend’s house later to apologize and to finish putting things away (her idea, although I probably would have insisted on it anyway). She also learned that she needed to factor in the time it would take her to get “dressed” (especially in the winter) and get home (i.e. travel time). In very basic terms, this is the ‘calculation’ she should be doing each time she goes to a friend’s house.
Time To Be Home – Travel Time – Time Required To Clean Up = Time To Stop Playing
It’s taken some practice, but she has gotten the hang of it and is rarely late. Let’s face it, time management is a life skill that our kids will use for the rest of their lives, so the sooner we teach it, the better (with everybody’s busy lives these days, you pretty much have to be a time management wizard to work it all in)! Do your kids make it home when they say they will or do they always have an excuse? If they are late, what is the consequence? Please share in the Comments below. If you are serious about teaching your kids to take responsibility for themselves, you may also enjoy my posts on Good Study Habits, Hand Hygiene and Goal-Setting.
“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” (W.E.B. DuBois)
It’s easy to forget that we are our children’s primary role models. After all, we’re adults so we should be able to do whatever we want, right (“Do as I say, not as I do”)? Truth is though, this attitude only serves to shoot us in the proverbial foot, because whether we like it or not, our children model our behavior.
We’re bound to trip up sometimes and model poor behavior, but the reality is that we should make every effort to be conscious of our actions, since we are setting an example for our children. After all, we can’t very well expect them to be honest, if they hear us lying to our boss, nor punctual, if we’re always late. In fairness, we ought not to hold them to a higher standard than that to which we hold ourselves.
My daughter is a perfect example of this principle in action. Although she is very definitely her “own person”, I see myself reflected in some of her behaviors. Like me, she is hesitant to try new things (something I need to work on so that she doesn’t end up limiting her opportunities), but she is also the first one to hold a door for someone, or to pick something up that has fallen and put it back where it belongs, rather than just ignoring it, and she is at the front of the line when asked to give to others. These are behaviors that I have consciously modeled for my daughter, in the hope that she will incorporate them into her life.
Teaching positive traits and behaviors to your children doesn’t have to be a ‘scheduled event’…they can learn a lot from simply observing who you are and what you do.
Click here to see some more inspirational parenting quotes at Parents.com.
If you’re committed to being a positive role model for your children, you may wish to read these articles on ‘Patience’, ‘Doing your best’ and ‘Making mistakes’.
No matter how hard we try to convince our children that real beauty comes from within and that being happy in your own skin will make you more attractive, our children can’t seem to help agonizing over their ‘imperfections’.
The self-flogging begins at a very early age and often we are at least partially to blame. Our children hear us complaining about our weight, about our wrinkles and about our frizzy hair and they internalize that, if we are not “good enough”, then they must not be either. Instead of being critical of our looks, wouldn’t it be great if we could rejoice in all the things that make us beautiful. Check out this eye-opening video from Dove about the impact we, as parents, have on our children’s body image.
If you are committed to making sure your children have a healthy attitude about their bodies, you may also wish to read these posts on Body Image and The impact of the media on body image.