Parents will always want the very best in life for their children. New parents can be especially concerned about trying to foster the perfect environment for their children to develop. If nurture is more essential than nature, then surely doting will help you set up your child’s future, right?
It is just a little bit more complex than that. To begin with, there’s more to a good future than getting good grades at school. Parents also need to consider things like social skills, sports ability, and similar other factors.
Here’s how a therapist reveals 12 ways to improve your child’s future.
Believe it or not, most methods that you can use to help your child have a brighter tomorrow all begin with and come from you.
1. Build A Connection
When your children know that you wish for them to be connected and feel connected with you, they will be willing to seek your help when they need it. This advice is according to Washington state healthcare governing board chair, behavioral health executive, and licensed marriage and family therapist Blake Griffin Edwards.
To establish and build such a positive connection, you should:
- Prioritize open and direct communication and conversations
- Be generous in doling out affirmation and encouragement.
- Show genuine interest in your child’s interests.
- Listen to your children when they talk.
- Open up to their perspectives and perceptions.
- Present yourself as reasonable and loving
- Remind them you love them in both words and actions
- Be slow to reacting to misbehavior and mistakes
2. Teach Healthy Habits
Learning how to set up healthy boundaries – both emotional and physical – and taking care of yourself are essential life skills that kids must learn. It may seem like a no-brainer to us as adults, but in actuality, children need to be taught how to:
- Plan and make healthy meals
- Encourage positive thinking both in yourself and others
- Create and execute a regular exercise routine
- Approach their thoughts and feelings in a healthy and loving manner
- Be attentive and grateful for the little things in life
3. Set High Expectations
Setting impossibly high expectations is always unhealthy and hurtful for any child, but it doesn’t mean you should slack off either, says Edwards. Research has shown a positive link between a child’s long term academic performance and a parent’s expectations. You can do this yourself by:
- Sharing your convictions, but be willing to compromise and be flexible about it
- Discuss openly and honestly with your children your expectations
- Share your thought processes on the matter of academics
- Remain open-minded
- Negotiate and compromise as necessary
- Remember that their wants and goals will be different from yours, and that’s okay
- Help and support them wherever you can
4. Let The Children Do Chores
With just how much it is for a child to do just to stay afloat in academics, it’s tempting to let them skip out on doing the chores so they can finally take a break. This attempt to care for them, however, has been proven by professionals to be misguided. Here’s what doing chores does for a child growing up:
- It teaches them responsibility
- It encourages them to value hard work
- They learn how to clean up after themselves
- They learn how to collaborate well with others to ease workloads and complete tasks
- Finally, they understand and internalize the importance of contributing to a mission for the good of the whole
5. Offer Effective Praise
It’s easy to think that just giving your children praise is enough, but that’s not enough. Research has shown that positive thinking and growth mindsets need to be encouraged via praise that applauds a child for their efforts and hard work – not for their innate qualities. This is because praising a child for their inherent qualities (like being smart or talented) encourages:
- Fixed mindsets
- Fear of failure
- The belief that their self worth relies on being good at something
- Avoidance of any task that cannot guarantee success on the first try
- An inability to learn problem-solving skills
It is preferable for the child to earn praise that acknowledges their struggles and celebrates their attempt regardless of the final result. This teaches the child to focus and place stock on trying and learning, rather than merely the outcome of success.
Humankind was never meant to be alone. Our need for connecting and bonding with others is a factor built into our very DNA. As a result, it’s crucial for parents to teach their children how to forge strong and healthy relationships because:
- Strong relationships are crucial for one’s emotional and mental growth
- Healthy relationships have a positive effect on one’s psychological wellbeing
- Children who don’t have close, meaningful relationships are more likely to get into legal trouble
- There’s a strong link between a lack of strong bonds and the development of psychiatric problems
- Academic performance results are often poorer for children who don’t have strong relationships
To avoid such problems, take the necessary time to teach your children conflict-resolution and emotion-management skills. Strive to give them every available opportunity to bond with peers by encouraging participation in activities and communities they enjoy.
7. Manage Your Own Emotions
No one lives in a vacuum – least of all your children. Everyone is affected by each other in some way, shape, or form, regardless of intention. And it’s backed by science, too! Research shows that a child’s ability to regulate and express their own emotions are affected by the emotional and relationship status of their parents and their ability to handle their own feelings.
In other words:
- The emotional wellbeing of your child is dependant on your welfare.
- Your stress often ends up affecting your children as well.
- Issues from your relationships or the unstable state of your emotions do not go unnoticed by your children.
As such, it’s best to learn how to handle your own mental and emotional health the best you can first. Otherwise, you may find yourself leaving a more significant negative impact on your children than you think.
8. Teach Consequences, Not Punishment
It’s easy enough a parenting technique. If a child misbehaves, simply wave about the threat of punishment – and if it continues, make good on your word. That way, they’ll learn that actions have consequences – right?
This isn’t the case. In reality, research proves that punishment hinders a child’s future. Here’s why:
- Does not equate to consequences, especially in the real world
- Often creates a rebellious child that gets creative with working around bans and punishments.
- Teaches children that an acceptable way to solve problems is via threats
- Often doesn’t teach the child anything essential or valuable.
By contrast, taking the time to show how cause-and-effect works helps:
- Teach a child what actual consequences are
- Instills in them a strong sense of self-motivation
- Lets them understand and grow
- Models effective ways of problem-solving
- Boost their self-confidence
9. Let Kids Follow Passions
In our day and age, society places a tremendous amount of pressure for both children and adults to perform. This often leaves no room for loves or passions, which can be discouraging and stifling to your child. As you can imagine, this scenario isn’t ideal for anyone’s mental wellbeing – both children and adults alike.
Here are a few simple ways you might encourage your children to chase after the things they love:
- Let them just enjoy what they’re doing, without giving them unwanted criticism or commentary
- Pay attention when they are sharing information about their latest hobby or interest
- Try engaging in their interest or hobby
- Encourage their efforts through words, actions, and gifts
- Understand that they may not be able to make a living out of it – some things, after all, are simply just for personal enjoyment and fun
- Shine a spotlight on the things your child loves, not just what they need to improve in
10. Teach Perseverance (essential for a child’s future success!)
The capacity and passion for keeping pushing for one’s long-term goals aren’t innate – it’s taught. Also called “grit”, it was discovered by a psychologist to be essential for anyone who wants to reach for their goals and succeed. Here’s a little more elaboration on the subject:
- The ability to persevere is necessary if any long-term goals and dreams are to be achieved
- This can be cultivated in your children by encouraging them to practice and find purpose in their passions
- Introducing your children to things they can become familiar with but can continually learn about for years to come
11. Set Up Family Routines
There’s something comforting about a well-worn routine with the ones you love. It may be a small hassle to set up, especially if everyone’s running different schedules – as is usually the case if you’re dealing with a full-time job while your children are busy with school and friends. The results are worth it, though, because:
- A study shows it results in better social-emotional health in preschool children
- It sets aside time for you and the children to bond with each other
- You get an opportunity to catch up on your children’s lives
- Both child and parent can share and review how an event unfolded, and what could’ve been done better
- It helps encourage social skills among children
12. Provide Unconditional Love
It is incredibly essential for your children to know that you love them unconditionally, without a shadow of a doubt. This not only teaches them unconditional love feels like, but it also creates a rock-solid foundation that they can fall back on during troubled days. Here are a few ways to show them your love and support:
- Understand what their love languages are, so you can give and receive love in a way that genuinely connects to them
- Reassure them regularly, both in words and deeds
- Always shower them in love, regardless of how the circumstances and expectations change
- Let them know that you’ll be there for them, no matter what they do
When you love a child, you’re already helping their future. You’re giving them the support and compassion that they need to push forward. As a parent, you challenge and motivate your child – and, also, as a parent, you shower them with love and affection. Embracing these habits will help ensure your child’s future success!