How To Raise Good Kids In Bad Neighborhoods
How To Raise Good Kids In Bad Neighborhoods
Great news! You're going to have a baby. You're excited ... ecstatic; but then, fear sets in. Your neighbors eleven year old son was just arrested for selling drugs. Gunfire and sirens blast out your dreams of life and lullabys. You recall your neighbor telling you, not long ago, "My son would never do that; I'll tan his hide, and he knows it." He might have known it; but obviously, that didn't stop him. So what do you do? How can you be sure that you won't be talking to a public defender twelve years down the line.
First, examine who you are and what positive traits you have that you would love to see your child emulate. Next, start eliminating the negative traits that you have that you would hate to see your child emulate. Children really do learn what they live and learn through example. The time has come to start cleaning house -- out with the bad -- in with the good. Don't stop with just your traits. Use this philosophy with your family, friends, and potential care givers. I'm not saying to cut off all ties with these people. I'm saying to expect respect, and let them know it. Think ahead to when your child is ten and how their behaviors will have influenced his or her behavior. Then, decide to do what's best for your child, whether that be limiting time spent with disrespectful people, eliminating time with them altogether, or accepting who they are and researching ways to accentuate the good in them before the baby comes. If you are a single parent who plays the part of Mom and Dad, cautiously seek out a member of the opposite sex who would be a positive influence on your child and who would enjoy mentoring him or her in your presence for years to come.
You cradle your infant and smother him or her with love and affection. You praise your toddler when he or she does something good, and enforce discipline when needed. You make sure that your sitters do the same. So far, your child is happy and well-rounded. In three months, your bundle of joy will start school for the first time. Outsiders will play a major role in forming the person he or she will become. Now is the time for you to set some ground rules -- for yourself. The most important thing that you can do to ensure that your child isn't influenced to do the wrong thing is to be there influencing him or her to do the right thing. I'm not saying to quit your day job and go back to pre-school or kindergarten; but I am saying to quit your night job and find a day job, if that's the case, so you can maximize the amount of time you spend with your child.
Give your child security through a regular routine.
Start a routine, such as: Wake up/get dressed/brush teeth 8:00-8:20 Travel to sitters/school 8:20 -8:40 Pick up child 4:00, Dinner 5:00, After Dinner-/Wash Up-Brush Teeth, Mommy/Daddy/Child Play Time - 5:45 - 6:15, Child alone play time 6:15 - 6:35, Help Child Toy Clean Up Time, 6:35 - 6:45, Child Bath Time 6:45 - 7:00, Put on Pajamas - cuddle in living room 7:00 - 7:15, Story time 7:15 - 7:30, & Kisses, Hugs, Lights out 7:30 - 7:35. Mommy/Daddy Time to clean up after the day, or relax, or whatever 7:35 - 10:35 and stick to it as often as possible.
Be involved in the preparation, execution, and duration of your child's outside activities
Make an appointment with school administrators to talk to them about the school. Ask what programs, clubs, and sports they have for children; ask how they discipline unruly children, how they deal with bullys, etc. and ask if you can spend a day observing what your child's day consists of. If you are unhappy with something you see, let the principal know. Check out other schools and go as far as moving your child to a different school if you're not satisfied with the results and if the problems will negatively effect your child on a daily basis.
Show your child how to give back to the community. Help him or her assist an elderly neighbor by carrying their groceries. Clean up leaves or trash in their yard or in the park together. Go through their old toys and have them pick out some that they think might make another child happy. Have your child clean it up and package it for its new owner. Bring them to a shelter and let them see the joy they bring to someone else. Let your child know how proud you are that they are getting involved to make things better for other people.
Now comes the scary part. No matter how much love, attention, discipline, and advice you've given to your child, if he or she hooks up with somebody involved in bad things, curiosity may get the best of him or her. It takes strength to resist peer pressure, and we all have our weak moments. This is why it is essential that you pay close attention to the people who attract your child's attention. Make sure your child knows that they can choose to do the right thing when someone tries to persuade them to do wrong. Let them know that you expect them to come home if a friend participates in any illegal or harmful activities. Make sure that they're not just seeing the criminal with all his or her bling but what they look like without all the bling and the freedom to flaunt it. Let them know that they may have to suffer consequences if they stay. Make sure they know the law and your rules. For example, vandalism is against the law. If your child is caught in the presence of others who are vandalizing property, they may get a record for vandalizing property also even if they were not involved in the destruction of the property. Make sure your child is aware of these laws. When your child comes home early after being out with friends, try not to interrogate him or her. Do something special together to reward or comfort them. Go out for ice cream or watch a comedy together. When your child is too young to go out on his or her own and if moving out of your neighborhood is not an option, choose a park in a safer neighborhood to spend time at. Take along a friend from school if you believe his or her family has similar values and expectations as yours. (Note: if you live in an urban area, you may want to look into rural areas where rent is often far less expensive and crime is often less serious, less life-threatening, and/or they may have less incidents of crime.)
Be involved. Ask questions. Play the "What would you do if ... ? game." Don't allow your child to run free for hours at a time. Give him or her numerous check in times. Teach your future star to set small goals, reach them, and then set more. Praise good behaviors. Say a prayer, cross your fingers, keep your eyes peeled, and yours ears open!