Raising Children: Seven Concepts I’d Like to Instill
I’ve always had ideas of what I would like to teach my children once they entered the world. “Golf is the greatest sport of all time” or “Math is so easy” are two examples, but now that my son is finally here I’ve found myself thinking about things I want him to learn that hold so much more relevance and importance to life. I want him and his future siblings to be the very best humans, friends, and all around people that they can be. I’ve learned many lessons throughout my life, but I think the next seven concepts will help in raising my children, and I also think these ideas will help my children traverse this crazy world all that much easier.
Relaxing Without Technology
To me, this is the most important thing that I want to instill while my children are young. I don’t want them to be reliant on a phone, tablet, or computer to relax or settle themselves down. I’m sure there will be a time and a place when my significant other and I will use technology to soothe our children, but I would like those times and places to be very few and far between. There are so many other things that can be used to calm that fussing, and many of those also offer tangible benefits to development and brain activity. I’m sure there are countless individuals right now saying something along the lines of, “But Dusty, introducing children to technology at a young age helps them better understand it as they grow.” I can see your point with that statement, but I also think you can teach your children about technology without allowing them to glue their faces to a screen in order to stay calm.
I want my children to be as unplugged as possible. In fact, I want this to carry over into their adult lives as well. I’ll admit, I’m no saint when it comes to screen time. I’m a huge gamer so if I have any free time away from work you will more than likely find me plopped right in front of my TV grinding away at whatever game I’m currently playing. Clearly, I’m also a blogger (and I happen to be working on a novel as well), so you can see how I have a requirement to use technology there as well. But the thing is, I can distinguish when I need to set my phone or controller down to spend time with those around me. Nothing bothers me more than when I’m surrounded by friends or family and every single person is on their phone. I hope that by raising children to soothe themselves without technology they will also learn the social cues that will help them avoid becoming a nomophobe later in life.
Reading is Awesome
I don’t think there will be any problem instilling this within my children. I love to read, especially if it is anything within the realm of fantasy. Granted, working full time, blogging on the side, and writing a book doesn’t leave much time for me to read much outside of my own work, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. My significant other is an English and Reading teacher as well, so she constantly has her nose in books too. On top of that, I am a firm believer that reading grows one’s creativity exponentially, and I can say that I wouldn’t be as creative as I am today without the countless books I’ve read throughout my life. Ideally, I’d like to tie this directly into tech-less soothing and have my children remain relaxed via reading. It’s been proven time and time again that reading helps so many people deal with high levels of stress or anxiety, so why can’t it be used to calm down or relax a child?
Education Over Everything
This also ties into the previous concept since reading is such an integral aspect of education. When I was growing up, school always came first. The second I was home I sat at my desk and pumped out all of my homework before doing anything else. This not only taught me valuable time management skills that I still use to this day, but it also taught me how to prioritize the things that are most important, and to plan for things that are on the horizon. A good education can also bring a child much needed scholarship and grant money if they’re planning on going to college. Some people may argue that education may be important but athletic scholarships are more important. While I don’t completely disagree with that, what happens when your star athlete child is injured and can no longer play? They need that education as a fail-safe for any and all unfortunate occurrences, which is why I will try to instill in my children that their education stands well above anything else.
Be Outside During Daylight Hours
This was something that I wish I would’ve adhered to a little more when I was younger. As I mentioned previously, I am a huge gamer and have been ever since my dad bought me my first Game Boy back in ’98. The second I finished my homework I dove into video games until I went to bed. On Saturday mornings you would find me up at the crack of dawn watching cartoons, and I wouldn’t move from that couch until I was told to. Both of these things led to me being a pretty obese child, which is something I think could have easily been avoided if I had been an outside more.
Other than the clear increase in exercise or activity, there are many other additional benefits that we receive from being outside. The vitamin D our bodies absorb from the sun is a key ingredient in developing strong bones and immune systems. Their creativity and ingenuity levels have a strong chance of developing as they try to keep themselves entertained with new games and activities. It can also teach children important social skills that will help them socialize with other children their age.
Practice Makes Perfect
I know, what a cliché, but it is 100% true. I learned this very early on in life from my father, who believe it or not, bought me a multiplication book that changed how I did math for the rest of my life. That may sound extremely lame, but I am dead serious when I say practice does actually make perfect. I was probably six or seven when he bought me that book and I tore through it once he showed me how to do a few problems. From there I started doing math in my head whenever I had the chance. I was that weird child who would calculate tax out at dinner or figure out the cash back at the grocery store before the teller input the amounts into the computer. I still to this day am the friend in my friend group who everyone looks to when they need any sort of math done.
Now, this obviously doesn’t only apply to math. It can apply to sports, reading, playing an instrument, or even something as simple as riding a bike, and that is what I want my children to know. They will fail at some point, but getting back up, dusting themselves off, and trying again will lead to better results. Along with all of this my children will hopefully realize that all of that practice also instills other key life skills: drive, dedication, a solid work ethic, and how to have fun just to name a few.
You Can be Anything You Want To Be
This is something that most children probably hear from their parents at some point in their lives, but I don’t think many kids realize how true that statement actually is. I want my children to know that they can be anything they want to be, but that sometimes, you won’t actually know what that thing is until later in life. For example, when I was growing up I told everyone I could that I wanted to be an architect. Funny thing is, I got to high school and my architect teacher told me that I would be a better engineer because I was good with math and science. So I went to college to be an engineer… and hated it so much that by my second semester I switched to economics. From there, I changed my mind three more times before settling back into finance which is what I do today. But I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a writer until I was two years removed from college! It’s hard to find something in this world that you are truly passionate about and can enjoy doing for work, so I will urge my children as they age to cast their net wide in the hopes of finding what they truly want to be.
Be Confident in Yourself
As an obese child, confidence was something I severely lacked. As I aged, I gained little chunks of confidence here and there, but nothing ever really helped. However, by my junior year of college I finally became comfortable and confident with myself, and since then I’ve felt like a completely different person. I was no longer afraid to be in large groups of people. I no longer afraid of getting called on during class. That confidence even carried into my career and has helped me become a better analyst. I no longer fear what could happen if I make a wrong assumption with my work. I’m not afraid to ask a tough question if I know the answer will better me or the company. Like I said earlier, sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed, and as someone with little to no confidence you may be afraid to fail. That fear of wondering what may happen if you fail can eat away at you, and that is why I want to be sure my children are confident with everything they do at a young age. I don’t want them to worry about standing in front of people to read, perform, et cetera.
While all the above are important, the one concept we want our children to adhere to day in and day out is to be kind. That goes above simply “treating others the way you want to be treated”. We want our children to know what it means to be a good friend or a good partner. This means our children will be willing to be helpers as well as listeners, they will stand up for what is right even if that means they will stand alone, and they will not pass any judgements on others. Kindness is something this world needs more of and the best place to start in creating more is raising our children with it.
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