It is up to parents to establish the standards that they expect their children to adhere to. By teaching children to behave in positive appropriate ways, parents can establish households that are warm, nurturing, and pleasant.
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Even very young children can be expected to exert a certain level of self-control. Toddlers have the ability to understand basic rules, so parents should begin to establish home behaviour policies early on, requiring that little ones comply. Young children should be taught that they cannot hit or push other people and can begin to take responsibility for their belongings. For example, preschoolers can be expected to hang their bags up after school and return their books and toys to their proper places when they have finished with them.
Growing Kids = Growing Responsibilities
Older kids have greater capacity to understand their parents expectations regarding behaviour, so it is reasonable that they should be held to increasingly higher standards. Appropriate behaviour goes beyond merely being well-behaved and caring for personal possessions, but should require that children begin to take on household responsibilities.
Families are teams, and when each member does their share of household chores, no one person needs to be overwhelmed with excessive tasks. Learning to cooperate and offer assistance to family members are behaviours that will serve children well as they grow into adulthood.
Some behaviour policies are put into place to help assure that family members stay safe. Teenagers, especially, need to be expected to comply with rules that are designed to keep them safe. Parents have a right and a responsibility to require that their teens understand the dangers that smoking, drinking, and using drugs pose and to establish clear guidelines for their teens regarding non-compliance. Behaviour policies should outline expected actions as well as consequences for misbehaviour. Teenagers are just one step from adulthood (scary thought, I know!) and need to take their responsibilities seriously.
Providing Good Examples
Parents can talk and talk, but kids learn far more by observing the examples that their parents provide than they do from listening to empty lectures. If parents hope to raise respectful children who take responsibility for their actions, they need to show the kids that they themselves choose to make sound decisions. Similarly, parents who smoke or drink will have a hard time convincing their children that they do not approve of these activities.
Today’s kids are influenced by many factors, from their peers to popular media. Unfortunately, many of the athletes and performers that kids admire do not feel any responsibility to present themselves as positive role models, making it that much harder for parents to teach that good behaviour has its own rewards. All too often, media stars behave in selfish and irresponsible ways, yet impressionable kids continue to support them by purchasing their music and movies and attending their events. The good news is that while public figures do impact children, it is parents who exert the most influence on their behaviour. Parents who consistently provide their children with positive examples of appropriate behaviour are likely to raise kids who are well-behaved and responsible.