What are your parenting principles? Have you taken the time to think through them? I’d like to suggest 10 parenting principles that will help you “lay down the law” for your kids.
Your ultimate goal as a parent is to help your child learn how to manage their behavior so that when you are not around, now and as they grow up, they can manage their own words and deal with their own feelings.
In their book Boundaries with Kids, Drs. John Townsend and Henry Cloud discuss 10 boundary principles every child needs to know. Let’s call them the 10 “Laws” that your child needs to know in order to manage their own behavior.
The Law of Sowing and Reaping
Your child needs to consider “what will happen if I do this or this?” Boundaries are established to protect your child. For instance, “don’t touch the hot stove,” or they will get burned. Or “don’t take your sister’s toy,” or they will have to sit in a time out and not play for 10 minutes.
As you set boundaries, they will learn the consequences of overstepping them, and thus the law of sowing and reaping. What they sow in behavior, they will reap in consequences.
The Law of Responsibility
Teach your child to “pull their own wagon.” They need to learn that there are certain things they can do for themselves–getting dressed, cleaning their rooms, brushing their teeth, going to bed on time, telling the truth, asking for what they need, getting up when the alarm goes off, taking a bath, etc. Steadily give children more responsibility so that they can feel positive about making healthy and right choices themselves.
The Law of Power
Help your child understand that they can’t do it all, but they are not helpless either. Sure, they need help doing some things, like learning, lifting, studying, making right choices, etc. But they do have the power and strength to do certain things like pick up their toys, put up their clothes, even do their own laundry.
The Law of Respect
Does your child know that they are not the ONLY one who matters? Your child needs to discover early in life that the world does not revolve around them. They can learn to respect the feelings and property of others.
The Law of Motivation
It’s easy for parents to default to “Because I’m the Mom — or Dad–” mantra. Teach your child to do what’s right not just because the parent says so but because it benefits others as well as themselves. Help them understand that WHY they should do what you ask. When they know the reasoning behind your directive, they will be more motivated to choose that on their own.
The Law of Evaluation
Sometimes, pain can be a gift. When something hurts your child physically or emotionally, they can learn to evaluate why it hurts and what can be learned from the hurt. Pain can result in growth. When your child experiences emotional pain, help them understand the pain and not ignore or suppress it, but to evaluate the lessons it can teach.
The Law of Proactivity
Teach your children to think ahead. Ask them to anticipate their needs and to plan for getting those needs met. Instead of being angry when a need isn’t met, teach children how to respond to their angry feelings in positive ways like asking, planning, or sharing.
The Law of Privilege
Children often think that they are entitled to something or have the “right” to get something. Once they understand that everything in life is a gift and that we have privileges given to us instead of rights we deserve, they will develop a thankful and grateful spirit.
The Law of Activity
Teach your children that in order to grow and learn, they must work at it. For instance, strong muscles require exercise, or getting an allowance requires doing chores. A parent who does everything for their child will raise a lazy, entitled adult.
The Law of Exposure
Train your child to be honest about their feelings and thoughts. Impress upon them the importance of honesty and integrity. You do this by modeling truth and being transparent with your children.
These boundary laws or principles should be initiated in the preschool years and then developed further as your child matures. But no matter how old your kids are, it’s never too late to incorporate them into your parenting.
Quite honestly, these “laws” actually start in the parent’s life. You must model them before your kids in order to expect your kids to grow in these areas.
If you are struggling with your parenting strategy, let’s talk. I’m a parenting coach and I’d love to give you a free 30-minute intro consultation. Schedule it here.