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Kitchen Table Talk

Raising successful citizens in 7 steps

If your young child came to you and said, “I want to be the president when I grow up,” what would you think?

Somewhere out there, someone is raising the future president of the United States. How would you go about it?

What would the late Steven Covey advise? Covey is best known for his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” a handbook on success for adults. His ideas continue to resonate in innovative programs in schools all over America and other countries as well.

The seven principles he outlines in his popular book can apply to children as well.

First, be proactive, not reactive. Teach your children that they are in control of making good decisions with positive outcomes. Secondly, all things are created twice, which means you visualize a goal and then you physically make it happen. Next, you have to put things to be done in proper order, first things first. This teaches your child time management and responsibility for the homework due tomorrow, as well as the project due in six weeks.

The fourth principle is about how to create the “win-win” situation. Accomplishments are met with mutual respect and agreement and not at the expense of others. You exercise this principle when you teach your children to work with you and agree on a compromise. Do this on issues where you feel there is an advantage to meeting in the middle.

The essence of the fifth principle says that if you want to be heard and understood, listen first. This is probably the most critical principle applicable to parenting. Listen, listen, listen, and do so compassionately and with concern. If you are a good listener, your child will learn the skill from you. Then when you have something important to convey to your child, he/she will be all ears! In addition, your child will develop the ability to speak up and effectively express opinions and ideas in class and also listen intently to others.

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