7 things to do that will keep your kids from being at risk
“My kids will never act like that. I can’t believe those parents aren’t stopping their children from behaving like that!”
As I watched parents try and control their kids, I couldn’t help but think how bad of parents they were. I told myself I would never let my kids behave like that… especially in public. They were going to listen to me. I was going to be a great mom. If my children ever threw a fit, there would be consequences, so they will never do it again.
Becoming a parent
Then I had my first baby boy, Blake. Such a perfect little baby. I could take him anywhere. I was a great mom! Everybody else’s kids were acting crazy, but not mine.
Then I had my second baby boy, Brandon. Perfect as well. As babies, they were amazing! When they weren’t happy it was easy to soothe them with milk, a diaper change, rocking, or a nap.
As I sat back in my rocking chair and watched my babies sleep, I thought about how terrible those parents were at being parents. I mean, I have two boys and they are so well behaved…
…and then my youngest turned two.
I became a bad parent
I remember getting a phone call at 5:30 in the morning from a neighbor, “Hey, just wanted to let you know your son is at our house. He was riding his big wheel down the road following daddy to work.”
That’s when I knew I had become the thing I dreaded most…
…a “bad” parent. I was now one of “them.”
One of my greatest fears as a parent was that my kids were going to be “at risk” youth. You know, one of those kids that other parents protected their own kids from. I knew I had to be proactive to stop this from happening. They were both strong-willed and determined to test every limit in their little world.
Being a parent isn’t easy, but it is totally worth the effort. I know now that kids disobeying, sneaking out, or breaking the rules doesn’t mean someone is a bad parent. There are things we can control – the culture of our family and our responses. And things we cannot control- their decisions.
Creating a culture that allows kids to fail and recover is key in helping your kids stay on the winding path of success. Parents don’t need to be perfect to raise great kids, just consistent. If I can do it, you can too.
Below are 7 things I did to keep my kids from being at risk.
7 things to do to keep your kids from being at risk
1 - Put your phone down
- A recent study showed that children feel like they must compete or are less important than their parent’s cell phone. Designate times of the day that you put down your phone and are completely present with your kids.
- When your child wants to talk to you; leave your phone in a different room and go listen to them. Your kids will appreciate it.
2 - Get kids involved in THEIR interests
- Take time to figure out what your kids are interested in. Once you figure that out support it 100% – as long as it’s not hurting them. There were a lot of things I wanted my kids to do, but they weren’t interested. I made a deliberate decision to not impose my interests on them.
- Start by asking your kids what they enjoy doing. Then, become their biggest fan, donor, and cheerleader. You will never regret the investments you make in supporting their dreams.
3 - READ READ READ!!
- You cannot read enough with your children. Reading stimulates the brain and encourages imaginative thinking. Reading with your kids promotes learning and enhances cognitive development.
- Tonight, turn the TV off and huddle around a good book. And it doesn’t matter how old your kids are, they will enjoy being read to!
4 - Invite other kids to your house
- If you have boys, then you know it’s important to always keep the fridge full. If kids were going to want to hang out at my house I had to make the culture and atmosphere warm and inviting. I enjoyed having my kids’ friends at my house. It created opportunities to instill positive principles into them and create a culture of love, forgiveness, and joy.
- Ask your family what they want to be known for. Write everything down. Next, take that list and turn it into a family mission statement. Hang it somewhere everyone can see. Their friends will read it when they come over and know what your family is all about. This is the beginning of creating a culture that will benefit everyone.
5 - Have a meal together once a day
- Having a busy lifestyle can make having a meal together as a family difficult, but the benefits are greater than the effort it takes. Having meals together teaches positive eating behavior and has health and social benefits. Make mealtime about being together – from prep to clean up.
- Your meal doesn’t have to be dinner or every night. I know how busy life can be. Decide what is realistic for your family and stick to it. I find that as the kids get older, breakfast is the best meal to have as a family because after school activities can eat into family time
6 - Earn their own way
- Chores allow children to be important contributors to the family. Chores teach responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. Not doing everything for your kids gives them life skills that will enable them to have a more productive adulthood.
- Create a family chore list. For bigger tasks, create teams to get the job done.
7 - It’s ok to say “No”
- Boundaries are an important part of life. They help us understand what will hurt us, get us in trouble, and prevent us from hurting others. Teaching your kids life doesn’t end when we don’t get our way helps them learn how to increase their emotional intelligence and deal with negative emotions. So it is not just OK to say “no”—it is imperative that you say “no” sometimes.
- Take time to explain why you are saying no. I know it’s easier to say, “because I said so”, but investing a little more time will be equally rewarding for you and your children. The older they get, the more important it is that they at least know WHY you are saying no. They will soon have to set their own boundaries and know their own WHY so they can hold the line.
I have survived a lot of parenting challenges.
“Blake quit hitting your brother!”
“Brandon do not pee on Blake!”
“Brandon, Stop jumping off the shed roof!”
“Blake, why are you eating that?”
“Brandon, I can’t believe you stole a band-aid.”
“Boys, stay on your own side of the back seat!”
Now, both my sons are grown, men. They are both successful and have families of their own. By successful, I mean they both have full-time jobs, bought their own houses, and are raising their children with their wives! Pretty powerful stuff in today’s world. Success!
My daughter is a sophomore in high school. She is also just as determined and passionate about life as her brothers. And, she is a great girl in every way.
As a parent, you know how crazy things can get with kids in your house. And it never lets up! Just when you think you are ahead, you find out you are 2 steps behind. You hunker down and decide it is time to get those dishes washed and the kitchen floor mopped…
…only to walk into an entirely new mess in the living room….. and then the bathroom….sigh.
You are drained
You’re drained emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Sometimes, the thought of having to find the energy to do everything over again the next day is enough to make you want to hide.
Having a few hard and fast family rules can go a long way in helping you shape their lives so they are ready for successful adulthood. They are counting on you. Not to be perfect. But to be consistent and to be THEIR role modeling success for them. for more ways to engage with your family, read this article.
I am rooting for you-