Raising Them Right

Published: 28th March 2016

There is no handbook, no training and no coaching courses. But thankfully when it comes to improving your chances of raising a happy, well-rounded child there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success…


It’s about more than just remembering their ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’, true gratitude requires an understanding of the bigger picture. Really meaning the words ‘thank you’ requires the child to have some understanding of the value of money, the importance of hard work and the fact that there are others who are less fortunate. It sounds a bit heavy, but teaching your kids gratitude early on will set them on the path to politeness.


How many times do you go through the kids’ old clothes and toys, and put a pile aside for your local Vinnies or Salvos? Involving your kids in this process is a great way to teach them valuable lessons about those less fortunate and about the importance of helping others. Poverty is a difficult concept for children to understand – after all, why do some people live in the lap of luxury while others much less fortunate are forced to flee their homes, statistics of a civil war that has killed thousands and left millions homeless? But even a basic understanding of this is important when trying to raise caring and generous children.


When we hear the words ‘it’s a boy’ or ‘it’s a girl’ most people automatically have preconceived notions of what that means. Fairy parties, monster trucks, soccer training, nail polish and the like. But we aren't raining boys or girls, we are in face raising individuals and their likes, dislikes, character and personality, should impact and influence their decisions, more reverently than preconceived stereotypes that are pushed under our noses via toy packaging and advertising. Caitlyn Jenner’s story is a great example of how stereotype influences the choices we make, and the ones that are sometimes made for us. Jenner, an Olympic medal-winning athlete and later a successful racecar driver, finally denounced the stereotypes that had previously haunted her earlier this year when she openly announced she is a transsexual. Her courage has put ‘gender’ under the spotlight and, for perhaps the first time ever, has made us really think about the issue of gender choices. So listen, watch and learn what your child enjoys and go with that – if your son likes dressing up and dancing, that’s fine, and likewise if your little girl loves superheroes then go with it. Let them explore. 


We’d all love to be world travellers, but the reality is most of us count our lucky stars if we manage just one holiday a year! That doesn’t mean our little ones can’t experience different cultures, without venturing too far from home. Check out a local cultural festival (check your local guides for details) and encourage them to try the food, dance to the music and listen to the languages. Ask your international friends to share their heritage with your kids, kids love story-time and other adults always seem more exotic and exciting!


Understanding is the first step towards acceptance, the next generation could certainly do a better job at this than our generation has. From the big issues of culture, religion and sexuality, to the superficial fashion, beauty and who’s friends with who, teaching our kids to accept (and even better, appreciate, if you can swing it!) each other’s differences, is important now and for the future.

Every experience we expose our kids to, shapes their views on the world and our role as parents is to guide them through childhood, build their confidence, broaden their horizons, catch them when they fall and if we’re lucky, help them find their passions in life – no pressure! Fingers crossed, after all that’s said and done, we’ll end up with happy, well-rounded individuals.


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