I have often wondered why each story told children always ended with, “the moral of the story is…”Now, I see why. Parenting is not about dishing out rules, rules and more rules. It’s about impact. What lessons are behind those rules you so rigidly stick to? When it comes down to the most important things our children take away from us, we’ll find that it was the lessons behind the rules, and not the rules in themselves that stuck.
So, as we “lay down the law”, let’s think of the lessons behind those rules; the moral, if you will, behind each story we tell. Below are five lessons which I call my children’s life skills. These skills provide a good foundation for children to blossom into dependable, reliable and well-rounded adults.
Lesson One: Learn to think for yourself
Children are impressionable; they absorb so much of the world around them. A child who cannot think for herself or himself is prone to fear of expressing their own feelings, and willingly accepts other people’s thoughts and feelings as theirs. When our children ask questions and we shut them down; when they express opinions contrary to ours, how do we handle them? While it is important to ensure our children are learning the right lessons, we need to give them room to understand why things are the way they are. We need to harness their decision-making abilities and groom them as they grow daily into responsible adults.
Lesson Two: You are responsible for your actions.
This is a two-fold lesson. On the one hand, you are telling your child that he or she should be willing to face the consequences of their actions. On the other hand your child also understands that he/she is not responsible for the actions of others and so, should not be punished for the offences of others.
Lesson Three: Be a problem solver
This goes beyond algebra and math problems. When you know how to think for yourself and to take responsibility for your actions, then you are well on your way to learning how to problem solve. A problem solver learns to consider more than one solution before taking action. A problem solver is a creative thinker.
Lesson Four: Can you handle conflict?
This is a lesson I still drill myself on every day, so it helps that I have two little students learning with me. Conflict management and resolution is a skill every single individual needs to develop capacity in. Handling conflict teaches us to remain calm and not be governed by our emotions. It teaches us to apply problem solving skills, even in emotionally charged situations.
Lesson Five: You are part of a whole
Understanding that no man is an island is a lesson every child should learn. Learning to be a team player, the ability to contribute to the greater good is invaluable. Children learn compassion and empathy; they learn to offer support; and a willingness to protect others when they learn that we are all a part of a whole.