As the New Year approaches, you may have started to schedule your children’s medical and dental appointments, calendared their parent-teacher conferences and sports activities. Those things may be important, but it’s even more important for you to plan for your children’s growth. So reflect today on where they are and what they need from you to help them advance in every aspect of their life.
It’s important to plan for your children’s growth to help them advance in every aspect of life.
Beyond all the basic health and medical checkups, what is their attitude towards nutrition and exercise? Do you need to encourage better eating habits, getting enough sleep, and some form of physical fitness? Do you need to model those things in your own life? Remember so much is caught rather than taught. One of our children has to have a gluten-free diet. We not only encourage her to make good choices for herself but come alongside her by eating many of the same things ourselves.
How are they doing in school? Are they being stretched without being pulled too far? Be sure to talk with their teachers and track their grades. Maybe there’s an area where they need some additional coaching. Also, you may like to read my post in which I discuss why education is not the most important thing for kids. In it, I talk about the virtues our children must learn in life.
Are you a student of your children? Do you really understand your children? How would you describe their inner worlds? What kind of support and encouragement may they need to face situations that will come? If puberty is looming, that is going to require some extra patience and attentiveness to help them navigate. And be mindful that boys can be harder to draw out than girls, especially when it comes to strong emotions like anger. You can help them with these 3 ways to get to the root of anger.
How does your son or daughter relate to you? Do your children get along well? Maybe my podcast 3 Ways to Foster Friendships Between Your Kids will help. And when they don’t get along, do they know how to resolve differences and repair relationships? Consider these 7 Steps to a Strong Sibling Bond. Do you need to make a point of ensuring that your children have time with their grandparents? And what about their friends? Are they a good influence or otherwise? You may want to check out Teen Friends: 4 Things Every Parent Must Know.
You’re never too young to start learning about money and how to handle it well. From when they were little, Susan and I taught our children to spend, save, and share wisely. Is your daughter ready for a small allowance of her own? Has your son reached an age when he needs to be given the freedom to budget some of his own expenses? Is it time for a part-time job after school? Here is what we should teach our kids about work.
Though there should be room for both, there is a difference between entertainment and enrichment. Is there an interest your child is developing that you can encourage by enrolling them in some sort of club? Hobbies are great for exploring interests and abilities and developing passions.
The most important thing we can do is to teach our children about God. We must do so with our words and our actions. These posts might help you on the journey: 5 Ways a Sabbath Day Can Enrich Your Life, Encouraging Your Teens to Worship, and 4 Things Kids Should Know Before College.
Once you have identified some goals in each of these areas, consider ways you can put them into practice. Schedule regular review times in your calendar when you can return to your list and see how you are doing, perhaps on a monthly or quarterly basis. Also, take some time to invite your children into this conversation. Do they have any goals of their own in these areas for 2018, and how can you support them?
How might taking this long-range view of your children’s coming year change some of what you do in the months that follow? Please share your thoughts below.