3 common-sense steps to help ensure a happy and fulfilling future for your kids
What is happening to adults? And above all, what’s happening to children nowadays? Is it that everyone has a lot of friends because we use our smart phones incessantly? Or perhaps we just don’t know how to live without our phone, and each day slips away faster and becomes more out of our control? We have to have the courage and intelligence not to see as totally normal a situation that is, in some ways, abnormal.
There are statistics that should make us stop and think, like those presented by Canadian psychotherapist Victoria Prooday. She lists some data points that can help us understand the situation of youth today:
- 1 in 5 children has mental health problems.
- The prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) increased by 43 percent between 2003 and 2011.
- Depression among adolescents increased by 37 percent between 2005 and 2014.
- The suicide rate has grown by 200 percent among children 10 to 14 years old in the past decade.
It is a terrible mistake to think that simply using various mobile apps is an adequate way for children to prepare themselves to face the present—and much less the future—effectively and calmly.
A healthy education requires, above all, learning to live our day-to-day lives knowing how to manage what really counts in life
- The emotional side of relationships, and social life
- Our responsibilities
- Self-control of our behavior in accordance with our own values
- Contact with reality, so as to distinguish what is essential and most important from what is virtual and often unnecessary
- Planning our own life so we can work towards our goals with hope and enthusiasm
This can only be achieved when children can count on the full presence of parents who know how to love them and, at the same time, tell them “no” whenever necessary; parents who teach them, by example and in words, how to prepare themselves to grow and to face real life.
In brief, from a psycho-pedagogical point of view, the most important aspects of children’s education to keep in mind are, in a certain sense, a matter of common sense. The greatest problem that we have is that we are all bound to the rhythms, conditioning, and fads that our frenetic present-day society is imposing on us through all the means of communication to which we all—both children and adults—are connected.
How can we help our children to grow, right from the first years of their life?
- Offer them emotional stability. The affective realm of children is the greatest treasure they possess, and we have to take care of it starting in their first years of life, so as to guarantee that love predominates in their future. The most effective way is to spend time with them, because the loving presence of their parents is irreplaceable in the formation of their affectivity. The best investment we can make is to educate their emotional intelligence and teach them to manage their own emotions, so they know how to recognize and acknowledge their own feelings and those of others.
- Help them to form positive habits that will give them a solid foundation for the rest of their lives: Children start to learn proper behavior at home. Children live by imitation: they will do what they see. Parents interested in educating their children will insist on certain standards in their own lives and in that of their children, and will motivate their sons and daughters so that, through the repetition of good behavior, they will form healthy and effective habits that will serve them throughout their lives.
- Orient them gradually towards independence. True independence is the fruit of affective maturity and the capacity to manage one’s own responsibilities. Good habits and having their affective needs met are the best foundation for children to grow bit by bit in the ability to take on greater and greater responsibilities in their own life. We must teach them to do on their own everything that they are ready for, according to their age and maturity (such as preparing their own backpack for school, organizing their own schedule, keeping their room clean, etc.).
There’s no doubt that the highest priority in life for parents is to see their children be happy and fulfilled. The future is built step by step through our daily behavior. Offering our children love, good habits, and independence/responsibility is the surest path for them to have lives full of happiness and fulfilment. Today, it’s a lot of work, and your children might not always want to cooperate; but tomorrow, they will appreciate it, and will thank you.