Character First; Designer Jeans Last

Many parents love having their kids involve in a wide variety of activities and they do love to have trendy and rather expensive clothes. But sometimes I feel this may not always be the best thing for our kids. Where do you draw the line?

Kids today are very fortunate. They have so many activities to choose from compared to what was available thirty years ago. However, parents might be cautioned to take a moment and decide….is it really in your child’s best interest that she take on the next round of activities? Does your child need the expensive items? Do you really have your child’s best interest at heart? Let’s take a look at what the experts say.

Research is very clear on this one. Kids who are taught the virtues of empathy, compassion and self-control…those are the kids that succeed. They succeed in relationships, academically, and financially. So, next time you are thinking of what to nurture in your child, think character first. These guidelines can help your child get the most of their activities without compromising the most important goals parents have….teaching their kids to do the right thing.

• Set limitations in your household. It’s all too common to hear what other kids have or get to do. However, we each need to decide in our own homes what is appropriate and best and then stick to it.

• Have your children earn their own spending money. They will scale down their wish list to affordable quantities and bargains. Children will reason: “I can’t afford this, but I can afford that…” Life is about learning to make wise choices.

• Fill Kids Up From the Inside Out. Your children may be telling you that they feel empty inside, that they need artificial stimulation because they are hungry—hungry for you, the strong family unit. Talk to them more. Do activities together (not shopping). Make sure to have a family dinner hour to listen to them- try to listen more and only speak unless asked to. The best gift is yourself and your time.

• Do volunteer work with your children. Let them see the internal side of life, not merely the external, and how they can make a positive contribution

• Exercise with your children. Exercising will help children get rid of stress, raise their endorphins and make them happier.

• Encourage creative expression. This can be through writing, painting, music, sculpting, carving, cooking, etc. Original thinking will encourage children to become nonconformists, take the road less traveled by and therefore not need the validation of looking like everyone else. Fashion and materialism are expressions of personal style; encourage your children to develop their individual style.

I will be the first to say that money is a nice thing to have. It’s a wonderful thing to provide well for your kids and enjoy the perks of life if you can. Just remember to incorporate a steady and consistent dose of gratitude and self-control, or the benefits you many be trying to give your child can actually come back to haunt them…and you.

Anne Leedom is the Editor-in-Chief of www.parentingbookmark.com. She lives in El Dorado Hills.

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