Kids nowadays have the access to everything–they have smartphones on their hands, headphones on their ears, and friends outside their home. These influences are difficult to control as they grow up, as adolescents become more secretive towards their parents. It’s not a new thing to hear about a kid being uncovered by his or her parents being involved in some sort of addictive behavior, unexpected activities, and even crime groups.
These incidents can be avoided when parents take measures to keep their children guided at home. Childhood discipline is a strong element in shaping a person’s life values–and without it, an individual may go unsteady and will take any other type of influence.
The concept of “Tabula Rasa”
When children are born, they are considered “Tabula Rasa“. Tabula Rasa is a Latin term which means “blank slate”. Children acquire things that they know about the world through their environment. This coincides to the studies on children’s brain plasticity, which is evidenced in a child’s ability to learn as much concepts as they can from birth to 7 years of age. Learning theorists such as Lev Vygotsky also referred to the power of social influence among children. The things they watch on TV, the friends they interact with, and the lessons they learn from their parents are what eventually shape their worldview.
What does this mean for parents?
This means that parents, the first social influence of their children, play a big role in their development. Although they cannot fully control their children’s behavior as they grow up, they are responsible for a big fraction of shaping their child’s minds and hearts to an ideal state.
When parents desire for their child to grow up living a good life, they must teach them habits that help avoid negative influences in the environment. What are some ways to instill good habits to children at a young age to avoid addictions and other undesirable activities?
1. Allow your children to explore their personal gifts.
As a parent, you may have envisioned a particular gift or talent that you want your child to have. It could be football, music, or even martial arts. Envisioning is not bad at all, especially if your child shows interest with these activities you present to them. However, it is important to give your children the freedom to explore their personal gifts. Pressuring them will bring a low self-esteem and make them doubt their own capabilities.
If you notice that your child has an inclination with arts more than sports, be supportive with him by all means. If you see that your child prefers to be shooting hoops with the rest of the team that putting on her ballet shoes, then let her be. Allowing them to try out their interests hones their skills and gives them the opportunity to focus on a healthy passion rather than turning towards harmful addictions.
2. Always explain the importance of health.
Many parents would often think that it is enough for them to give reminders about what children should do–drink their vitamins, brush their teeth, or eat their vegetables without really explaining the significance of doing such daily habits. When kids reach a certain point where they can understand reasoning and logic, it is important to explain why they need to do such things.
It would help to tell them that drinking their vitamins keeps them from being sick. Eating vegetables make their bones and muscles strong, and avoiding addictive habits such as drinking, smoking, or doing drugs can help them stay at their optimum physical and mental state. Explaining the importance of health can guide children into having a self-motivating factor to pursue desirable habits. When one is self-motivated, they are more likely to stick to their goals without the constant reminders of others, especially when they turn into adults.
3. Set an example for your kids.
The whole point of teaching someone is being able to set an example towards them. There is no point in imparting values for your children if you do not live on such values yourself. If you are suffering from addictive behaviors, perhaps it is time to seek drug & alcohol treatment to be a role model for your children.
In recent studies, it is shown that children of parents who took illegal drugs or suffered from alcoholism are more likely to continue the cycle of addiction. Parental substance abuse creates a big impact on children growing up. The statement “walk the talk” isn’t just applied in politics or public affairs–whoever you have an influence on, you must make sure that you are an exemplary role model.
4. Do a variety of recreational activities with your children.
It is one thing to encourage your children to pursue their hobbies–but doing it with them takes your parenting to a whole new level. Doing recreational activities with them affirms that you support what they want to do and that you desire spending time with them. They say that the most important gift you can give you to your children during their formative years is time. Material things and money can be lost and earned back, but time can be a moment gone forever.
You can have a weekend “fun day” where you and your children take turns picking a fun activity to do, whether indoors or outdoors. You can visit a park, have a summer sprinkle splash in the afternoon, play a board game, or eat at the ice cream shop. Instill in them that there are a lot of things that can be enjoyed which doesn’t involve drugs, alcohol, or other harmful activities.
5. Open your communication lines.
Communication is the building block to any relationship. Parents should always foster open communication with their children, allowing them to speak up with their struggles without the fear of judgement. Some of the most common barriers in parent-child relationship is the lack of open communication, which happens because of fear. Kids are afraid of being open towards their parents because they don’t want to be ostracized for their decisions.
As a parent, it is important to be calm, respectful, and proactive towards a problem. Being reactive and negatively emotional may push your children away–they don’t want the burden of hurting your feelings or even the fear of being punished. What’s done is done. Be open to solutions, and let them know that you still love them and are rooting for their recovery despite the struggles.
Guide your children up the hill
Adopting healthy habits may be a tough hill to climb–but the climb becomes a lot less harder when you shape your child’s values early on. By instilling the right values and healthy habits, you are setting your young ones for the life you had hoped them to have.