10 Great Growing Up Tips To Share With Your Child
By: Mary Dixon LeBeau
As parents, we will fill numerous roles in our child’s life – from friend and caretaker, to chef, chauffeur, and cheerleader.
But one of the most important – and one of the most fulfilling – roles is that of teacher. We try our best to pass on life lessons, both practical and philosophical. As the mom of five, I’ve dispensed plenty of advice in my time – from “Homework always comes first,” to “No one dies of a broken heart” and everything in between. Of course, I’m never sure how much of it sinks in.
So I asked my favorite experts what one piece of advice they think is most important for kids to learn as they grow toward adulthood. Their responses were varied, but each was formed around an important life lesson that we all could benefit from. So, in no particular order, here are ten of the best lessons you can share with your child:
1. “You are important and loved, but you are not the center of the universe,” says Melanie J. Davis, M.Ed, author of Sexuality Talking Points: A Guide to Thoughtful Conversations Between Parents and Children. “Find something outside of yourself that will give your life meaning so that, when your life is over, the world is a little better place because you were here.”
2. Norman Rubek, father of three boys, made sure his sons had a rule of thumb to give them pause when making choices. “Don’t do anything that leaves facial scars, a permanent record, or a good chance of death,” he says.
3. “Never compare yourself with anyone who seems to have it better than you,” advises Judy Gruen, author of The Woman’s Daily Irony Supplement. “Remember there’s always someone worse off than you are.”
4. Jay Handler, president of SellPhone Marketing, chose a practical lesson. “I teach kids about compound interest as early as possible – it is good if someone’s paying it to you, bad if you’re paying it to someone else,” he says, adding that his kids knew about compounding and dollar cost averaging before they learned multiplication. “Basic financial principles are so important, and they’re simply not being taught in school.”
5. Every child should learn to believe in himself, says Michelle Kunz, team and leadership coach for PEL Coaching, LLC. Her advice? “Make up your own rules, and don’t listen to anyone else tell you you aren’t capable. That’s only true when you believe it is,” she says.
6. Kids who play the blame game should take heed of this advice: “Be careful when you point a finger at someone else. You’ll have three others pointing back at you,” reminds Jennifer Hartstein,PsyD, a New York City-based child and adolescent psychologist.
7. Kirk Martin, director of education for CelebrateCalm.com, says self control is tops on his list of advice. “Control yourself – your emotions, attitudes and behaviors – in the face of adversity and you will be the most powerful person in the world,” Martin says.
8. “Do right, because it is [right].” says Shirley Van Scoyk, the mother of one son and foster mom to three tweens. “You don’t do right because it will get you something, or because it will keep you out of trouble, or because you will sleep better. You do right simply because it is right, and then anything good that happens as a result is the icing [on the cake].”
9. “What you say and do matters, even if no one is watching,” says educator Annie Fox, author of The Teen Survival Guide to Dating and Relating. “The choices you make from moment-to-moment shape who you are and the way people feel about you.” Happiness comes from making choices that reflect the real you – even if no one is looking.
10. And, finally, a reminder for the tough times: “Everything that happens to you is teaching you how to get through it,” says parenting expert Bob Lancer, author of Parenting With Love, Without Anger or Stress. So look for the lessons in every experience – and apply them in the future.
And I’ll add my own piece of advice – the one lesson I hope my children will remember as they grow up and move on -- if I could teach them one thing, it would be that life isn’t fair -- it just isn’t. Stop expecting it to be and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress.