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The Easy Secrets of Parenting

Updated on August 29, 2013

Focus, little one.

Great way to teach focus and discipline. Too bad it costs a fortune.
Great way to teach focus and discipline. Too bad it costs a fortune.

There is a Secret

Every year, I go to my son's parent/teacher conferences and every year I hear the same comments: "Your son is so well behaved and polite, I want to clone him and share him with everyone." My eyes water a little every time, because I'm proud. I raised this child, who by all accounts, is a mini-adult who behaves and follows orders and stands up for himself and his beliefs. I did well with this little person, and look at what was accomplished. Everyone who meets him also has this same reaction of "wow, look at how well behaved he is". I am proud. He did this himself, but didn't we help?

So people do ask me, "what is your secret?" I point out that I have only grounded him once, and he did spend a little time in time-outs during his "two's". But was that it? Was disciplining him what made him the tween he is today? Or was there something else at play? I think this had a part in it. He didn't want to be punished so he didn't misbehave where he would need to be. disciplined. It had a part, but I don't think it had a huge part in his behavior. I think there was something else at play here. This might just be the secret to parenting. No no, don't thank me.

The secret parenting tip is free. You don't have to buy a book to tell you this, in fact I bet they won't tell you this so you can buy more books. I don't think I've ever read my secret in a parenting magazine. I don't even think I've heard my secret weapon in the many voices of unsolicited advice all parents get, especially from parents that have had only a few days of actually being parents or people who don't have children. Don't you hate parents of newborns telling you how to raise your 10 year old? And those who don't have children that think this gives them more insight into the mind of children?

Back to the point: my secret to raising a well behaved child. You know how whenever they talk about serious illnesses, they always talk about how they have ways to cure it or make it more manageable but prevention is key? This is similar to parenting. Disciplining to break a bad habit is something you need to do, but wouldn't it just be easier to prevent this undesired behavior to begin with?

This is my secret. Your every action is watched by these little people in your lives, and I point out often that they will mimic your behavior. If you want to teach your child to work hard, show them to work hard. Every time I do anything or say something, I pause before I act. I think about what I'm about to say or do and if my child is around I ask myself one question: "What would I do if my child did/said whatever I'm about to do/say?" If the answer is, be unhappy and discipline them, I opt to not do that. I don't swear around my children, I don't insult people around my children. If someone drops money, I pick it up and call out to them. If I do slip up, I point out to my child that I did something wrong, and it wasn't right of me to do. As a result, my son swore once, and was grounded for 2 days. That was 6 years ago. I make sure they see me exercise, because I want them to know it's not healthy to sit around and do nothing all day long. My every action is dictated by whether or not I want my child to copy this action. If I don't want my child to be quick to temper, I watch mine.

There, I broke the secret of parenting for you. If you find a behavior to be undesirable for you child, don't do it. If they don't see it from their first teachers, they won't think it's acceptable. You are the first and biggest impact on your child. What you do from the beginning will dictate how they behave and react to situations when you no longer have the capacity to be there and show them what's right. Be sure to also reward them for that good behavior. Once at a CVS, a woman walking ahead of us dropped a $20 bill. My son picked it up and ran after her to make sure she got it back. As a thank you, this woman gave him a dollar. My son gave that back, saying "I was just doing what's right". I then bought him a dollar pack of candy. He walked away proud of himself for his good deed and he walked away with his favorite candy for a reward. Good feelings are great, but to a child candy is better.

Rewards for good behavior.

At Pax East, he was more behaved than some adults were.
At Pax East, he was more behaved than some adults were.

Other Ways

That's the biggest and most successful tip I have used as a parent. With that said, there are other ways to go about this, some that are much more successful for younger children/babies. They also work well with pets, hilariously enough.

  • On the move. In dog training pamphlets, the first thing they say is: "a tired dog is a behaved dog". Guess what? This applies to children and babies. Give your child plenty of exercise and stimulation, and they'll just tire themselves out. And when they are tired, they sit quietly and read or take a nap. And a napping child is a quiet child and a sitting quietly child is still a break for you.
  • Activities. Team sports are fantastic for older children, as well as any activity outside of the home or school where children have to interact with others. Team activities teach children that they need to work together with others do accomplish a goal. Activities like dance and martial arts, as well as team sports, also teach children a level of focus and discipline. They need to learn rules, steps and moves as well as techniques to be successful at the major goal. This will help teach children to practice and be diligent in everything they do.
  • Friends. While they're young, you're able to pick your child's friends. A child that I deemed as an obvious bad seed by the way he never listens to anyone watching him and a complete lack of control over his bad behavior, I decided this wasn't really a child I wanted my child to hang out with. I didn't want him to see that behavior and think that I find it acceptable, because I didn't. So when asked if my child wanted to hang out with his, I opted against this. I explained that his child didn't behave as well as I would like him to behave and I didn't approve of it. It turns out I was right, he was apparently a bully to other kids and would steal things from them.

Those are my simple ideas and tips to help your raise your child the way you want to.


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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      That is the best kept secret for parenting I have ever heard! You are right, it isn't in the parenting books, and you don't hear others talk about it. One mother asked me if I had an invisible rope around my children. This made me laugh! I found that as a parent, I was always teaching. I taught before, during, and after, and kept teaching until my children turned out the way I wanted them to be. It looks like that is what you were able to do by your own example.