I live in Michigan and 4-wheel drive comes handy—especially during the winter. Off road and on other unstable surfaces, it gives the driver an advantage by evenly distributing power and torque from the engine to all four wheels, providing more strength and stability. In turn, the driver navigates the roads better and without spinning out of control. It’s going to get slippery and you’re going to slide a little bit. You’ll definitely hit bumps—but the car won’t flip.
There are also ways to keep your kids on stable ground when they face trials in life. There are tools that are like 4-wheel drive for your children. Imagine kids’ hearts as their engines, central to all they do physically and emotionally. At times, they are going to slide off track and perhaps even get banged up in the process. Still, when these factors are in place, your kids are safer, healthier, and stronger. Here are 5 pivotal principles for raising a strong child.
ResilienceBe there for your kids to guide them, but don’t be too quick to rescue them.
The saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But I say that’s only true if you have the right tools and know how to use them. The time will come when your children will have to face challenges. That’s OK, because most of them build character and the ability not only to bounce back but to bounce forward too. Be there for your kids to guide them, but don’t be too quick to rescue them. In your own life, let them see you struggle and problem solve. Walking with your children through trials rather than giving them easy solutions helps prepare them for adulthood.
Think social connections here—all the people we interact with each day. Model healthy relationships for your children by the way you interact with your spouse, friends, coworkers, and people you meet in public. Ask yourself if you consistently treat people well, both in front of your children and when your children aren’t looking. Keep talking with your kids in an age-appropriate way about loving, respecting, and serving others. Set the bar. Healthy role modeling and discussions now speak volumes later when your sons or daughters begin to establish relationships on their own.
Helping our children recognize what’s going on inside themselves is key to developing strong and confident children. As children age, they become more aware of the world around them and their reactions to different situations. By helping them to recognize and verbalize their emotions, we equip our sons and daughters to think more clearly and react properly. This is a major step toward their future self-discipline and self-control.
Having conversations with your children about how and who to ask for help empowers them when they face difficulties. Assure them that it is OK to ask for help. We all need it sometimes. Assist in enhancing their problem-solving capabilities by talking them through problems. Together, identify trusted individuals from whom your child can ask for help. Lastly, try running through a few simulations at home. This will be good practice for when real trials arise.
Communication within a family is foundational to building stronger children. Engage your kids in conversation with questions such as, “What is one good thing that happened today?” or “What should we do this weekend?” Give everyone an opportunity both to listen and to speak. Value and respect their answers. In the long run, helping your children develop strong conversational skills will appropriately equip them to communicate one day with a potential spouse and also prepare them for the workforce.
Dad, putting these principles in place early and attending to them regularly not only strengthens your kids but helps them stay on track on the road of life.
Sound off: Which areas above are your strongest and which ones are your weakest?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one good thing that happened today?”