Raising your children to be accountable and functional adults and not expecting the school system to do it for you.

I am not a teacher but it doesn’t take much to understand the overwhelming tasks and responsibilities that teachers have today. It seems as though the school systems are really taking a beating over not teaching American children what they need to know but is this really the case? In my opinion, parents have gotten lazy about what we should be teaching at home and I think it is time to separate what should be taught at school and what parents should be accountable for.

Respect, Responsibility, and Accountability are learned behaviors; Children pick these up from daily interactions as well as mimicking what they see. Also, I feel these three characteristics are what make contributing and functional adults. We have to ask ourselves how a teacher can teach these to our children, if we are not applying the foundation first? It is never too early to start the building blocks for these traits.

 Gen dished out consequences to the individual who did not replace the toilet paper roll. We call it being “Rick Rolled”.

1. If you can not be accountable for your actions, how can you expect your child to be? Making mistakes is the easy part, taking ownership is not, even as adults we find excuses as to why something is not our “fault”. Take ownership when you do something wrong and let your children witness that you are holding yourself accountable for your missteps. Accountability can be rewarding.

2. Teach them to spend money, not just save. A lot of emphasis is put on saving for our children(s) future but have you taught them how to spend correctly? Give your children appropriate financial responsibility, even as a preschooler. Let them make small financial blunders and do not bail them out; teach them to recover from these mistakes and how not to make them again. It may take them a while but eventually they catch on and learn to budget. They also learn the value of their purchases and become much wiser spenders. Letting them make financial mistakes at 6 years old has a lot less consequences then making their first mistakes at 26 years old.

3. Create informed consumers. By the age of 8 years old, both of my girls could and would read nutritional labels on food and drinks. The girls understand that limiting their sugar and sodium intake is very important and they base their snack choices off understanding these facts; this is not an unreasonable expectation.

Show your children how to make informed and conscious decisions. Teach them the value in reading labels, consumer reviews, and conducting product research. By instructing them on the importance of informed decision making, you teach them to rationale decisions which will be incorporated into unintended life situations.

4. Manners are always appropriate. Be a “Manners Role model”. Although it is important to talk to your children about manners, it is also important to follow your own advice. As adults, we forget the power of please and thank you, the kindness in holding a door open, the respect in waiting our turn to speak, and remember the good feeling that comes with selfless acts. Manners today also include cell phone etiquette, teach your kids to put their phone away in public places.

5. Chores still apply. Doing undesirable activities like the dishes and vacuuming are critical skills to learn as a child. Children need to learn that household responsibilities fall on all members of the family and that with a job well done comes pride. Children learn their standards of living within their home environment but they also will not understand what it takes to accomplish that, if they are not allowed to pitch in.

6. Incorporate the Golden Rule. Do they even teach that in Preschool and Kindergarten anymore? No, then make sure your children learn that at home. Teach children how to respect hose around them. One thing that always upsets me, is when adults talk bad or make fun of people in the presence of children and then are amazed when their children are teasing other children. Please, make the connection and teach your kids to accept those around them.

7. Quit Complaining! Teach your children to be proactive, if something is upsetting them then they should know how to change their circumstances (See number 1). Happy people do not sit around complaining, just doesn’t happen. Learn to count your blessings and share them with your children. Creating a positive environment for your children provides an atmosphere for creativity and learning. Smiling is so much more fun than frowning anyways.

 Weird people are happy people.

Parents are the first and last teachers our children will have; we influence their thoughts, their emotions, their actions, and even their ability to learn, so why do we put so much pressure on schools to teach our children life skills? If there is any confusion as to why we are losing control of our children, maybe we need to look at what is happening in our own homes.

I don’t say these things with a tone of self-righteousness or arrogance,  I make parenting blunders every single day. The only thing I do know is the above steps have been incorporated into my children’s lives and they demonstrate that they understand respect, accountability, and responsibility; this reassures me that they will grow to be healthy, functioning adults.

-Taking it one day at a time.

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