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Touro College Prof Explains the ABC’s for Raising Children
By Dr. Ann Mulvey


A parent may have to modify some of the ABC’s to best comply with a special need or situation.

A is for Adaptability. Children vary greatly in ability and needs, and one of the difficult problems throughout the “raising” years will be trying to help each child to progress at his own top rate. Parents have to adapt to the varying needs and personalities of their children. Try to be flexible.

B is for Bright. One of the meanings for bright in the dictionary is – radiating or reflecting light. Isn’t that what parents try to do for their children? Parents must make opportunities to keep up-to-date. Use everything at your disposal to teach and enlighten your child.

C is for Confidence. Without confidence, a child or adult is at sea. We, as parents can instill confidence into our children. There are many ways: praise, for a lesson well done, a chore done on time, or even just for trying. Praised often enough a child will believe he is capable of almost anything. Stress his good points and put them to their best use. Watch the results!

D is for Discipline. Without discipline we are lost from the start. Discipline is best achieved with as little fanfare as possible. Don’t give ultimatums or threats unless you are prepared to carry them out. Days full of interesting, varied play and work make little time for getting into scrapes.

E is for Empathy. Project yourself into their thinking. How would you feel if you were the child instead of the parent? Demand high standards (for your child) but learn to give a little, especially when the child is hard-pressed by many demands.

F is for Friendliness. As a mother or father, you cannot be a “pal” to your children and still maintain discipline. We have seen many parents fall onto this stumbling block. This does not mean you cannot be a friend, cannot laugh with them, or enjoy their friends. Take an interest in as many of their activities as possible, but we must all remember that we cannot be “one of the gang” on Sunday and in “place of authority” on Monday.

G is for Goals. Set attainable goals for your child and help to reach them. Use all the latent talents and abilities of your child. If he can’t spell, can’t read, can’t add or subtract, help him to improve. We all need to succeed at something, even if it’s being the best dishwasher in the house or the best thumbtack pusher.

H is for Humor. Do not be afraid to laugh at yourselves, but don’t be guilty of laughing at your child – with him, of course, but not at him. Sarcasm with a child (or anyone else) is rarely a good tool.

I is for Ideals. As you set “high” goals for your children, set high ideals for your own conduct. Never be critical of the other parent before a child. It is often hard to refrain, but some things should not be said in front of children.

J is for Joy. Get real joy from your opportunity to guide your children in the impressionable years; joy from enriching their lives and your own. When they are grown, we will realize that they have given us far more than we have given them.

K is for Knowledge. We must know before we can teach a child. There are times when we do not have the answers – admit it. Faking is no good, and a child can usually sense it. Essentially we should know the answers. If we don’t – we should find out.

L is for Love. A truly giving love is special. It is, in part, a completely unselfish concern for others and a devotion to our families.

M is for Manner. The same rules should apply for all of our children. If a thing is wrong for one child, it is wrong for all. We have all seen parents favor one child over another. This builds resentments against the favored child. If the child is handicapped, parents should take the time to explain why some rules cannot apply in certain areas. Your manner reflects your thoughts.

N is for Noticing, (and also for not noticing). Notice the hard-earned marks, a new dress, a new tie, a child’s love of poetry. However, don’t notice these things when they will embarrass a child. Sometimes praise is good for only the child’s ear; at other time public praise is warranted.

O is for Orderliness. Definite routines should be employed for keeping a child’s room clean, doing homework, etc. This makes for less disciplinary problems and a better oriented child.

P is for Praise. Praise honestly, but praise often. When we can sincerely give a word of praise or a word of thanks, don’t let us fail to do so.

Q is for Questions. Half of a child’s early years are spent asking questions. Learn to recognize a child’s questions. Does he really know the answer, or is he too lazy to think about it? Make a child think! ! ! If he honestly doesn’t know, answer him thoroughly and carefully.

R is for Relationship. Work with your children as a team. Establish a feeling of complete trust with them. Never betray a confidence of one child to another.

S is for Self-Esteem. Each of us as parents must have regard for our own ability, knowledge and accomplishments – but not so much that we believe we alone are right.

T is for Time. Use it wisely. Our children are young for such a short time. Make each day count for something.

U is for Understanding. Don’t expect the impossible; don’t expect the unworthy from your children. Understanding is a two-way street. We must have sympathetic understanding for others before we can expect it ourselves.

V, W, X, Y, and Z stand for all the unknowns. These are the unknown influences that make our children react as they do; the unknown reasons why one method failed and another succeeded; the unknown facets of our own personalities that can be utilized for good or bad. Time will clear up some of the unknowns, but never all, for every child and every parent is different. For this we thank God. This is part of what makes raising children a rewarding and challenging way of life. #

Dr. Ann Mulvey is a professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education.



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