It finally seems like we can stop making pencil marks on the wall. It’s certainly been a bit of an endurance battle dealing with the wonky mood swings of the growth spurt grouches. Low and behold, I’m finally getting a few more smiles at the dinner table and things seem a little more equalized. After writing that piece a couple of weeks back, I really started noticing the gears grinding away in their little brains, trying to once again find their sense of self, three inches later.
As the boys continue to grow mentally and start to figure things out on their own, it definitely seems more important than ever to make sure that M and I are conscious about teaching them about concepts that will help them grow into some fine, respectable young adults (but not too fast please.) I’ve put together a little infographic that includes words that I feel every kid should know.
Kindness and Compassion
Tantrums and timeouts aside, L + B are pretty awesome little guys. Even if it’s making sure that the daddy longlegs from the kitchen window gets outside safe and un-smushed, it’s amazing how thoughtful and considerate they can be on their own free will. Just the other week, I was at a friend’s for lunch and her daughter (completely unprovoked) helped clear the dishes and wiped down the table! Where did these wonder children come from?!
We’ve all been bombarded with the phrase: ‘actions speak louder than words’, but it is especially relevant in this case. Teaching the boys about generosity and compassion has definitely been done mostly by walking the walk and making sure to demonstrate these values in front of them. On the flipside, I’ll admit that it’s taken a bit of self-discipline to not lose my cool from time to time (um, we all have those days those days), but I’ve been making the extra effort to explain to them if I do lose my cool, why. It also teaches them mom isn’t perfect which is a good lesson. This type of respect is a form of consideration that a lot of people mistake for animosity and can go a long way in teaching these concepts, even if you’re disagreeing with someone.
Sympathy and Selflessness
With all their toys and other goodies from Santa over the holidays, L + B certainly had their fair share of huffing and puffing over who plays with what. I think it’s just natural to have that competitive edge – especially with boys – but there’s definitely a balance between feeling that their needs come first and sort of naturally having a capacity for sympathy. I can think back to when my little ones literally sobbed when their legos were smashed or threw a huge fuss over the idea of having to share something with friends. While it might have been
sort of incredibly annoying at the time, it’s definitely a good sign that they know what it feels like to care about someone (or something) really early on.
A really awesome way to demonstrate these concepts is to get together some old clothes and toys that have been gathering dust in storage and bring the kids along on a trip to the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army. As you may imagine, the aforementioned growth spurt has made it next to impossible to keep a dresser full of clothes that actually fit, so we threw some old ones in a pile and filled some bags. I talked to them about the idea of helping others in need, the concepts of humanity and charity, and it was amazing to see the positive energy that they had throughout the day knowing that someone else is going to benefit from their actions.
Patience and Reflection
It seems these days we live in a society that craves instant gratification. Slowly but surely, it seems like kids want things much more often and they want them now! I covered this a bit in the post about finances and the kids a little while back, but it’s super important to stress how much patience and responsibility play a huge role in their young lives.
I’m sure that part of this lack of patience in a lot of young kids has to do with all the video games and their shortened attention spans. I’m not saying that we should take the games away because let’s face it, we all deserve a little time to unwind and get our minds off things. I try to limit these things and let them play as a reward for doing good deeds or chores around the house. This way, they learn that you may have to wait for a bit to get things that you want in life. I also really feel that learning patience will also help them as they get older when it comes to keeping it together during stressful or tough situations. We all know, life doesn’t get any easier.
I know that sometimes it’s hard to say “no” to those little faces, but I try to use a solid balance of reinforcement and discipline. This also helps with reflecting about their behavior and learning responsibility. If their best bud calls and wants a play date, be sure that they clean up any mess that may have been left behind beforehand. I have found that the more that I enforce the rules, the more likely it is that they will start to get into a routine of doing these things without being asked. A huge win!
Teaching our kids these important life lessons day in and day out sure isn’t easy. But what part of parenting is? Here’s to raising kind kids by leading by example the absolute best we can.
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