Ever notice that the atmosphere of your household often depends on your attitude? Children notice how their parents feel by the way they act and the tone of their voice, and many times mirror that back. In a stressful, chaotic home, kids often display that same behavior. You have the power to shape your children's futures, starting with your mood and outlook at home.
Are you worried and unhappy, dragging yourself to a job that you don't like? You can show your child that reality and complain about how unfair life is. Or, you can have a positive attitude, telling your kids that even though you might not be where you want to be, at least you have a job, and are making progress toward something better. You can show them how to make the best of every situation, and make good choices.
Give your children the hope of a bright future. Don't burden them with the family's financial problems, or details of a tough economy that they can't possibly understand. Help them see that they can realize their dreams. Tell them that they can be whatever they want to be. Let them know that you believe that they can go on to get an education at Baltimore City Community College, University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, or wherever they want to go. Set the bar high, and your children will rise to meet your expectations.
Take advantage of every opportunity to talk with your children. From reading stories at bedtime, to riding home in the car after school, kids need reassurance that you believe in them, and that you will help them succeed. Some of the best conversations I've had with my sons have been after ballgames. We discuss how people behaved (coaches and parents included!), how the situation could have been handled differently, and what they thought about it. It let them know that I value their opinion and am open to their ideas. And I also managed to get in a few words of advice, without preaching.
Often we get so caught up in our own issues that it's difficult to see how our behavior affects those around us. Teach your children that a positive attitude is contagious, and good things can happen when you are willing to work hard toward your goals.
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