Even though kids come into the world with different propensities of personalities, for the most part we can teach them good behavior. Here's how:
- Spend time with your kids. We hear all the time that it's quality time, not quantity time that matters, but that's dead wrong. Parenting actually requires you to be there. If both Mom and Dad have full-time jobs and a bunch of hobbies, friends, family, and other commitments, they will frankly be sucky parents because they don't have the time or patience for their children. The relationship you have with your child is the most important teaching tool, and when there's a warm, sensitive, strong, day-to-day leadership position from you, your kids will tend to not be pains in the butt because they are truly, deeply happy.
- Give encouragement and lots of affection. Praise your kids, give rewards for good behavior, and pay extra attention when they do something right. If your child has earned something, make a big deal about it at the dinner table. Children who experience highs at home aren't going to want to get high with their buddies. Sadly, many parents only pay attention when their kid does something wrong, and then they give them hell. How would you feel if you only got feedback when you screwed up?
- Be kind, but be firm. You are not your child's pal or friend. That doesn't mean you're not warm, loving, and playful, but you do have to be firm.
- Unless harmful or dangerous, ignore some of the small things that really don't matter and focus on the bigger things.
- Be consistent. This is where a lot of parents fall by the wayside. Sometimes they follow through; sometimes they don't. All that tells a kid is that they can probably get away with something.
- Correct your child as soon as the bad behavior occurs.
- Remember that rules are best for kids who are school-aged. When kids aren't school-aged, they don't really understand the concept of rules. When you say, "You're not supposed to do that," they just look at you like, "Huh?".
- Make it clear that even though you don't like their behavior, you don't hate them. Never call your child names. If you do that, they will turn to their peers.
- Have a sense of humor. Just remember, the ultimate payback is someday when they have kids who drive them nuts.