Q: Our sons are 6 and 4 years old. Like probably all parents, we want to raise them to be mature, responsible children. But we’re not quite sure how to go about that. Any suggestions?
A: Maturity and responsibility are all about self-control. Some parents believe they can instil that into children by sheer force of will. In other words, by making them behave. It is possible for mums and dads to exert their authority and try to force their children to act a certain way – and at times, this may be necessary with young children. But overpowering your children’s wills as a primary parenting strategy isn’t the way they’re going to learn self-control.
As your children grow, the focus should increasingly be on helping them learn how to choose between wise and unwise decisions. The way they do that is by experiencing the consequences of their actions. Clearly lay out your expectations, then allow them to choose their own path. But make sure they know the consequences for their choices are theirs to bear. Wise decisions will earn them more freedom and opportunity, but unwise choices will cause them to lose more and more privileges.
Children will only grow into maturity if they learn to exercise self-control and to take responsibility for themselves. And that will only happen if we parents gradually take our hands off the choices our children make and give them a chance to be accountable for their own actions. For more tips to help your children thrive, explore our Articles.
© 2018 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used by permission.