There is no shortage of parenting advice in American media. From tiger mothering and attachment parenting to the more hands-off RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) parenting, there is an assortment of contradictory methods, all with the same simple goal in mind: to raise kind, confident, well-rounded kids. Don't let the onslaught of conflicting theories overwhelm you. Instead follow your intuition and common sense to raise well-rounded children. Here are some basic principles to help guide the way.
Encourage an Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude has been a hot topic in the field of psychology in recent years and for good reason. Consistent practice of gratitude has been proven to improve physical, psychological and social well-being, according to leading researchers in the field at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Researchers have found that grateful people have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, healthier lifestyle habits, more joy and optimism, as well as are more outgoing and less lonely.
Begin encouraging an attitude of gratitude by creating a daily habit of discussing things you are grateful for over breakfast, on the drive to school or even before bed. Encourage your kids to share their feelings of gratitude as well, especially with the people who they are particularly grateful to have in their lives, like teachers, friends and family members. Help your daughter pick out an extra special gift for her dad for Father's Day to show her gratitude for all that he does for your family.
Nurture Drive to Succeed
Find yourself telling your child how smart he is after acing that math quiz or saying "good girl" after your daughter completes her first puzzle? While this praise has the best intentions, it misses the mark in truly encouraging your child's drive to succeed on his or her own. Instead, help your child harness a healthy internal motivation for achievement and success in all that he or she does by praising hard work.
Praise of effort helps to develop a mindset in your child that anything is possible with hard work. By contrast, praise of being smart or talented can make your child feel as though his or her gifts are innate. This can limit the amount of challenges he or she is willing to tackle if the challenges are thought to be outside of his or her abilities, according to Stanford University professor of psychology Carol Dweck, Ph.D., who is a leading researcher in the field of success and achievement.
Strive for Balance
Above all, if your child is going to be well-rounded, you must teach the importance of a balanced lifestyle. While you may feel pressured to over-schedule your kids with after-school activities like their peers, instead let your child choose one or two extracurricular activities to allow plenty of time for unstructured play.
Keep exploration and play as high of priorities as school work. Contribute to your community as a family through volunteer work to help your children learn the importance of giving back and the gift of charity. Most importantly, do not miss the opportunity to lead by example with work-life balance. You are your child's notion of normal, so do all that you can to keep stress to a minimum and enjoy life away from work to the fullest extent. Strive to maintain healthy eating, exercise and sleep habits and beware of how any complaints in doing so can influence your child's worldview.