Ok, so I am not claiming to be an expert (my eldest is only 6), and the word “perfect” is used with sarcasm, but after 5 years in teaching, I have learned a HUGE amount about how NOT to parent, so I thought I would pass on these words of wisdom, and hope that I can also follow them as my kids get older.
- EFFORT is what is important. NEVER praise your child for how amazing/brilliant/talented they are – that will just lead to an insecure child who is afraid of trying in case they get in wrong! You should always praise how hard they try in order to achieve whatever goal it is.
- Kids need SLEEP. Particularly teenagers studying for exams. Kids bedrooms should be only for sleeping and perhaps studying, and should certainly not contain games consoles or TVs. Mobile phones should also be removed at say 9pm. I cannot believe how many kids are too tired to concentrate because they have been on Snapchat or playing on their PS3 until goodness knows what hour. What sort of parent allows their child to do this?!?! There is a DIRECT correlation between what ability class a child is in, and whether they have a bedroom full of gadgets and mobile phones at night.
- It is YOUR responsibility to support your child in their education, not just the schools. Did you know that a supportive parent adds MORE to a child’s education than the school can? Listen to your child read, attend parents evenings, take an interest in what they are learning, support the school when required, provide a quiet space that they can do homework, check what homework they have and make sure they can and have done it! Last year I taught sets 1, 3 and set 9 for GCSE. At the Y11 parents evening, the lowest set (9) had just 20% of parents turn up, set 3 had 80%, and set 1 (top ability set) had 100%! The numbers speak for themselves.
- It is perfectly acceptable to say NO to your child. Kids need boundaries, and boundaries that are crossed need a consequence. Set your boundaries clearly and make sure you are very clear what will happen if they do not follow this.
- Kids need to take responsibility for their own actions, so let them take RISKS and don’t wrap them in cotton wool. They need to learn from mistakes. If they want to climb a tree, roll down a hill, drink alcohol, go out with a dodgy friend etc…, then let them (within reason)! So long as they know the consequences of their actions should it all go a bit wrong!
- Have FUN with your kids. Do not spend all day watching rubbish on tv and online. They are only young once (18 still counts as young!) so go out and have some FUN! Go on a bike ride, climb a big hill and roll down it, play a game together, go for a meal, cook together, make something together, plan a holiday together, watch a film and eat popcorn together etc… it doesn’t have to cost money to be fun.
Ok, words of wisdom complete. There are probably zillions more, but the above are just things that could make the difference between your teenager turning into a nice human being rather than some of the vile kids I teach where quite frankly I would question why the parents ever bothered to have kids.