Ah! the Final Frontier.
Just when you think you got this whole parenting thing down, you realize there’s more to learn and do to prepare your child for the world (because yes, no matter how old they are… you know what I mean!).
Getting your child ready to be a contributing and healthy member of society that can set goals and achieve them is incredibly important, especially in today’s world.
I found this lovely infographic by Samara of Tiny Fry, showing 18 powerful parenting hacks, categorized into five broad areas—grit, independence, discipline, character, and presence—to help your child thrive. Who wouldn’t like some parenting hacks to make their jobs easier?
I’ve quickly summarized four of these for you—after all, the goal is to help you prepare your kids to be the best humans they possibly can—and keep you sane along the way!
Parenting Hack No. 1: The Importance of Grit
“Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.”
Grit isn’t just some concept you see in Clint Eastwood movies, it’s something you can easily give your child as you help her develop courage and resolve to take life by the horns.
How can you teach your child about grit? Well, start by teaching her to look at the big picture. I know through experience that kids who learn to focus on the process rather than the end result often work harder on achieving goals—and have a much better chance of success. Think about how often you get bogged down by the big picture and imagine how your child would feel if he only looked at the world that way. Spare them!
Another way to give your child the gift of grit is to teach him the three Ps. They are:
Parenting truth: Children who are taught how to incorporate the three Ps into their lives are more successful than children who aren’t!
Parenting Hack No. 2: The Importance of Independence
“Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they find?”
I realized a while back that it wasn’t my job to entertain my son—and I am so glad to know that was the right thing to do. Certainly, you want to invest in time with your children and do things as a family, but there’s nothing wrong with fostering an independent spirit in your child.
A great way to do this is to let your child be bored. I know, I know—there are some days when you could scream if you hear your child say she’s bored one more time, but that’s a good thing (the boredom, not you pulling your hair out). Unstructured playtime helps to promote problem-solving skills and creativity. I bet Picasso was allowed to be bored as a child.
You can also encourage independence by letting your child have time for free play. Take her to the playground or the local moms group and let her interact with others to learn how to resolve conflict, share, and cooperate. It’s good for her brain development, as well as for her social development.
Parenting Hack No. 3: The Importance of Character
“If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.”
Your child may be a character, but do they have character? Character is one of the most important things you can teach your child because it provides her with the moral and emotional qualities that will make her a good person.
How to encourage this?
First, nurture her emotional intelligence. Many studies show that emotional intelligence is a higher indicator of success in life for people than their IQ is. Basically, you can be the smartest person in the world, but if you don’t have the emotional chops to navigate it, then you’ll have a huge disadvantage. And I think it’s safe to say we all know people like that–common sense and empathy truly go a long way!
Another important aspect of character is to teach your children that they aren’t the center of the universe. I’ll be blunt here—no one likes a demanding child who only wants things done their way, and adults like that are liked even less. It’s important to teach them that what Shakespeare said is true, the world is but a stage and we are all players. They may not know who Shakespeare is yet, but the lesson still rings true: You’re not the only person in the world, so don’t act like it.
Behavior is obviously the focus of many parents, but you can’t just stop there. You have to show your child that positive behavior starts from the inside. Focusing on their heart and the good in it is a great way to encourage good thoughts that lead to good behavior overall.
Finally, teach your child about character through gratitude. She needs to be grateful for the things she has and understand how being grateful can increase her overall happiness. You don’t want to raise an unfeeling little so-and-so, do you?
Parenting Hack No. 4: The Importance of Presence
“Always kiss your children goodnight, even if they’re already asleep.”
When you’re present for your child, you’re teaching her how important she is for you. You can reinforce presence in your child’s life in a few ways—the most important of which is making sure you’re a good role model for them. Show your child just how valued she is and how much you respect her as a person.
Another important aspect of teaching your children about presence is to show them love–unconditionally. Studies show that children are happiest when they’re routinely shown unconditional love. This one isn’t hard to do, is it? I don’t know about you, but this was a given from the moment I saw my child’s face for the first time.
No doubt you’ve heard about the importance of teachable moments. When you’re present in your child’s life, then you’re seizing the opportunities that present themselves to teach them valuable life lessons and helping them to develop their moral compass.
Finally, make sure you show your child this behavior, not just talk about it. The saying “Actions speak louder than words” is absolutely true! You can talk until you’re blue in the face about the things you want your child to learn, but if you don’t actually model that behavior for them, then you’re not going to get very far. And worse, you’ll look like a hypocrite and lose respect. Who wants that?
No one said this parenting thing was going to be easy. You have to remember that you’re a person with flaws, so you can’t expect parenting perfection from yourself. What matters more is trying to show your child the ways to be a successful, caring person. Perfection isn’t the goal—love, consistency, and learning are.
I don’t know about you, but in all the ways I try to show my son how to be good and happy, he is constantly teaching me too. I look at these parenting hacks as a way of returning the favor!
Enjoy the infographic!