Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Building a Healthy Family

Category: Positive Parenting


      There are numerous positive parenting techniques which help prepare children for school.  Four of the most basic goals include:

  * Establishing a healthy positive self-image in each child;

  * Teaching strong social skills;

  *Establishing a home with a positive learning environment and one that respects education and makes it fun and exciting;

  *Sharing lots of quality family time together and thus truly being a family.

      The foremost key to a child's success in school is a healthy self-image.  The most important step toward that goal is letting each child know how much you love him.  This should be done verbally and physically with lots of affection and individual attention and praise.     Use every opportunity to praise your child's unique qualities and efforts, specifically and sincerely.  Avoid undue amounts of criticism.  Strive for positive, consistent and fair discipline.  Teach your child with each correction and remind him you love him and you want him to be his best.

      One of the greatest keys in determining your child's self-esteem is your own self-esteem as a parent.  A child will emulate his parents and strive to be all the things he sees in his parents, both good and bad.  This is a great responsibility for us, but it is very much worth the challenge.

      To teach vital social skills to our children, we should demonstrate them daily in our own lives.  For example, if we are friendly, courteous and loving to all around us, our children will imitate us and learn the essential skills of getting along with others.  We can teach good listening as well as speaking skills by being a family that shares time together listening to each other courteously and respecting each child's opinion. 

      Encourage the youngest to express himself with good questions and full attention.  Ideally your home will be a place where everyone in the neighborhood likes to come, where kids are always welcome.  These vital social skills, once learned, will help your children immensely in their early school years and throughout their lives.

      A child who is excited about education is usually one whose family values education.  Teachers are revered and reading is more important in the home than television.  Unfortunately, this is not very typical of American homes today, but it is certainly worth striving for.

      Again, our children will follow our examples.  If we spend four hours a day watching TV and only four minutes reading, we can't expect our children to be dedicated readers.  It is critical that we as parents control television time as well as other things such as Nintendo.  Keep them in proper perspective with regular reading and good conversational time.

      One of the best things you can do with young children is to read to them regularly.  The classics are especially good.  There are numerous books avail-able for even the smallest children's age level in all bookstores and libraries today.

      There is no substitute for regular quality time with our children.  This creates lots of happy memories and positive mental tapes in their minds.  No boarding school, day-care center, enrichment, toddler program, nothing, can substitute for good quality family time shared on a day by day, year by year basis.

      Making meals a real priority and turning off the phone and the TV is a good place to start.  Planning weekends, vacations and special times together as a family and letting the children contribute to the planning are other great ways to build happy memories. 

            Each child has special God-given gifts and qualities which must be nourished to flower into a beautiful unique bloom.  As parents we should strive for the unique ingredients necessary in each child's case to bring that special bloom into its full flower.