I have been thinking recently about events in my past that were turning points; experiences where I set a new direction for my life. How did I come to those decisions? How can I help my children make good decisions?
Teaching children correct principles and morals
I decided early on as a father that I wouldn’t let a teaching moment go by. It is vital to teach our children principles and morals we believe are correct. For me there are two ways in which to teach these:
- In the moment – be prepared to recognize a teaching moment. Discuss what lesson(s) can be learned from the moment. Ask “What choice would you have made?”
- Personal stories – take time to discuss personal situations and the decisions you made. Ask the children “What do you think were the consequences of my choice?” Discuss if the choice was a good one and why.
Looking for and then acting on situations where teaching can occur makes it easier to have a discussion. Using your own stories to reinforce a principle lets your children relate to the problem in a personal way.
Influencing children to make correct decisions
The best way to influence children to make correct decisions is by example. Let them see you making decisions in your life. Help them understand why you decided what you did. Allow them to ask questions about the decision. Being able to personalize our principles and morals will lead our children to understand them better. Those stories stay in their memory and surface when they need to make a decision. This is important for those moments when they have to rely on themselves.
Allowing children to choose for themselves
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a father is not letting my children choose for themselves. When I’ve made the decision for them, it’s as if I’ve said: “you’re not smart enough to make this decision yourself”. This leads to mistrust. I do however make decisions when the consequence could put them in physical danger.
When a child can choose for themselves, it gives them a sense of independence. This does not mean they are exempt from the consequences of a decision. Failure can be a great teaching tool and we should not be afraid as parents to let that happen.
Being non-judgmental when a choice has a negative consequence
When a child makes a correct decision, we need to celebrate it. Celebrating correct decisions builds up an image of success in the child. They gain confidence in their decision-making ability and will make correct decisions more frequently.
When a child makes an incorrect decision, we need to avoid negative or disparaging remarks. Instead, we need to help them understand why the decision was incorrect without removing the consequence. The consequence is just as much a teaching tool as the discussion around why the decision was incorrect.
A Recent Turning Point
Recently, we made the decision to homeschool Sam. The decision was made jointly with Sam. This meant that Cheryl and I would be responsible for teaching him and he would be responsible for studying and following his agenda. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but we have seen benefits because of this decision. One benefit is that our relationship with Sam has grown stronger. He is getting more one-on-one time which is affecting his behavior positively. Sam is also learning how to study. He had to choose to study and he is studying harder than before. He is learning more because of this.
We are hoping that this turning point will lead Sam to be a hard worker and independent learner. We also want this to be a time to strengthen our relationship with him. We hope this independence and ethics of hard work will become a turning point for Sam. His education becomes the way in which he learns independence and how to contribute positively to society.
Another recent turning point you can read about was Lia running for Historian.
How have the turning points in your life affected your direction? How have you helped your children learn correct principles and morals? What stories can you share with them where you had a turning point?