Keys to Kids

by Derek & Michelle Brookes

Chapter 2: Pointers for Encouraging Good Behavior

Children need--and appreciate--a clearly defined standard of behavior. Often misbehavior is just a child crying out, "Show me the way!" Here are some tried and proven parenting basics:

1. Set clear boundaries.
Set clear boundaries as to what your children are allowed to do at home, and set reasonable punishments for crossing them.

You may not have much control over what goes on outside your home, but you can set the standard for acceptable behavior and attitudes inside your own house.

2. Create a link of honest, open communication with your children.
If your children are honest with you, you have a much better chance of knowing what goes on when they are away from home. They should feel that they can tell you anything. You may not always agree or allow them to do everything they want to, but they shouldn't be afraid to confide in you.

The secret of establishing such communication is to learn to listen. As a parent, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is your sincere interest in them and their problems, as evidenced by your undivided attention whenever it's needed. By simply listening--really listening--you are telling your child: "I want to understand and help you. I think you are worth listening to, and I want you to know that I have faith in you. You can always talk to me because I love you."

Ask questions. When communicating with children--or with anyone, for that matter--asking questions helps to draw them out and shows your concern and interest in them. Get them to talk. And when they are asking you questions, be careful not to overly philosophize, pontificate, or pretend to be something you're not. Just stay simple! Show love and understanding. And avoid offering any advice that you wouldn't want to apply to yourself. Learn to present your advice or answers in ways that are as easy as possible for them to accept.

Of course, before you encourage your children to "tell all," you'd better be prepared to hear them out without jumping to conclusions or flying into a frenzy, otherwise they'll probably be sorry they even tried to be honest and open with you. An admonishment or punishment may be in order, but try not to give it on the spot. Take time to think it through. (After all, if they hadn't confided in you, they wouldn't be getting a lecture or correction right then.) You can tell them that you're taking a little time to think and pray about it, but be sure to also commend them for being upfront with you. It is good to approach the situation in question as a problem you need to fix together, or learn from together. Whatever the problem, it will be easier to overcome--and easier on both of you--if you can preserve the bond of trust between you and your child.

If you expect your children to be honest with you, you must also be honest with them. It greatly encourages children to know that their parents aren't perfect. (Besides, you can be sure they've noticed!) By your own honest admission of your mistakes and weaknesses, you are setting a good example for them of what honesty and humility are all about, and your children will love you the more for it.

3. Find a balance in what to allow and disallow.
Pray for God's guidance as to what activities are harmless, which ones you need to monitor and limit, and which ones you need to forbid.

You will need to find a good balance in the things you allow your children to do, especially when they are away from home. Completely forbidding your older children and teenagers to do certain things might not work and could cause them to rebel and do it anyway behind your back. It may be better to agree on reasonable limits together, and then hold your children to them.

4. Don't be overly alarmed by outward appearances.
Don't be overly alarmed by behavior that's ...



Parenting Toddlers


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