How to raise well-adjusted children is the goal of every parent but it is far from an easy task. Let’s face it – if we all did a great job at raising our children there wouldn’t be so many adults who are jerks roaming the planet. We’d be free and clear of narcissists, everyone would be well behaved with perfect manners, our world would be peaceful and psychiatrists and psychologists would be out of work. Seems like a utopia right?
As a first-time parent, you fear every new milestone. Your friends warn you, “just wait until they start cutting their teeth and start crawling”. Followed by “uh oh here come the terrible twos”. Before you can blink the terrible twos turn into the terrible three’s and then the awful fours, and F-my life fives and so on.
I was the youngest in my family so I didn’t have any younger siblings or even cousins to practice on. The first baby I held was my baby girl and I was petrified for this child. My wife and I must have looked at each other a hundred times wondering how much damage we were doing to our firstborn early on in her life while we navigated parenting for the first time. Our running joke was “well this will come up in therapy 20 years from now for sure”.
So if we’re trying to raise well-adjusted children what is the right thing to do? We don’t want to raise lazy, entitled brats so where do we start?
Here are 10 powerful tips to raise well-adjusted children
If your goal is to raise well-adjusted children then schedule them on routines as early as you possibly can. These routine schedules should include homework, meals, bath time, and bedtime. I even had a routine for when I came home from school as a child which included changing my clothes, grabbing a snack, and then doing my homework.
Creating routines helps your children to learn important time management skills which they will use later in life.
Boundaries are tough for some adults let alone young children. Tell a child no and before you know it all hell is breaking loose. To avoid chaos, some parents just avoid and work without boundaries. This method produces the children I spoke about earlier, the lazy entitled brats.
You haven’t done your job right as a parent until the child screams I hate you and slams their door. This action is the point that you know that your words are starting to sink in and that the boundary has been set between parent and friend. They don’t have to agree with the boundary you have set but they must abide by it and try to understand why.
The less they fuss about your boundaries the more they are accepting of them but you must stand firm on your decisions. You can’t waffle back and forth as it is confusing to the child and sets a bad precedent.
Show them love
If you want to raise well-adjusted children you must show them love. Let them know how you feel about them daily. Hug them and tell them often how much you love them. To this day I still tell my girls I love them each night before bed even if it’s in passing by their room at night en route to my bed.
Empathy allows children to feel what it’s like to “walk in someone else’s shoes” or put themselves in someone else’s situation. Empathetic people are typically kinder, gentler people. Having empathy is difficult to teach but I believe this is a perfect case of teaching by example. If you, as a parent, lead with an empathetic heart your child will learn to approach situations in the same kind manner.
Play with them
We all live chaotic lives, working long hours, and barely having time for ourselves. If you want to raise well-adjusted children you need to learn to put your phone down and focus a certain amount of time daily to your children. Spending time playing with your children allows you to make strong bonds and connections. Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood at night try to get outside with them while they’re young, willing, and not enrolled in 40 different after school activities and sports.
Assign them chores
Raising well-adjusted children involves teaching them responsibility and there is no better way to teach them responsibility than to assign them weekly chores and simple household tasks. The chores don’t have to be overly involved and should be simple enough for them to complete when they are young.
As the children get older their chores should also become harder and require more effort. Simply making your bed at 16 years old shouldn’t be a chore anymore but more a “given”.
If you’re so inclined tack on an allowance for completing chores. Tying money into the mix can help build an incentive for the child and also teach them how money works and the benefits of a savings account.
Social media is rotting our children’s brains. I don’t have any hard scientific proof of this other than my observations. When I was young I knew how to navigate my neighborhood and where people lived. My 16-year-old has no idea where her friend’s houses are because she’s never paying attention when she’s in the car. Instead, she is staring at social media on her cell phone. We didn’t have anything to keep us occupied in the car growing up other than music so I focused on where we were.
Children need human interaction to develop properly and burying their faces in digital screens is not the answer. Limit your children’s daily screen time to a couple of hours a day and make sure they aren’t on their phones or televisions all night.
It’s become second nature to throw a phone or tablet in front of a young child in the supermarket or mall just to keep them quiet or occupied. Try speaking and engaging with them instead and you might be surprised with the results.
Give children moments to remember
Well-adjusted children don’t need a whole “slew” of expensive things that they won’t remember when they’re adults. Instead, they need moments and memories to look back on favorably. My girls remember the times when we would play games or have “daddy-daughter days” at the arcade or Dave and Buster’s. The times as a family when we would celebrate the holidays together and dress up in goofy costumes to celebrate different cultures.
It’s not about how many toys you buy your children, or how many boxes they have under the tree at Christmas. It’s about making positive memories and experiences that impacted their life that they can look back on when they’re adults.
I’ll agree that the red Corvette rechargeable sports car is a very cool toy, but does it matter to them two years from now?
Have some lazy days
It’s OK to enjoy some downtime with your children as well and just relax. When my oldest was young I built a two-person swing in our yard that we would sit on all the time and just swing back and forth. We didn’t do anything but just talk and relax but it was a chance to just observe her growing up.
Part of becoming well-adjusted is knowing how to unwind and relax. Teach your children the importance of meditation and self-care. It will do wonders for them when they become adults and enter the
“rat-race” of full-time work.
Read to them
Every night my wife and I would take turns reading to our girls before bed. Sometimes it was the same book over and over again and other times we got the chance to mix it up. I’m pretty sure I could recite Goodnight Moon to this day if I were put on the spot.
Reading to them nightly was our chance to spend those last few minutes of the day with them while they cycled down for bed, give them a kiss and a hug and tell them that we loved them. Having teenagers I admittedly miss this a bit because many nights I’m asleep before my girls get home so treasure those moments while you can and read those same books over and over again no matter how you feel about them.
If you want to raise well-adjusted children these 10 tips are a good place to start. Would you add anything else to this list? Comment below.