A couple of weeks ago a young mom asked me my opinion of the most important things to teach your children. The first  lessons that came to my mind, number one “ to teach your child to live by The Golden Rule, “to treat others the way you would hope to be treated (from the Bible, “In everything you do, do unto others as you would have them do unto you” from Matthew 7:12.  Secondly, “To Respect Authority.” Next, “Teach that work is good thing.  Finally, “That loosing isn’t all bad.” 

a person sitting on a couch reading a book
Photo by Worshae / Unsplash The Golden Rule is found in the Bible, Matthew 7:12.

     Let’s start with The Golden Rule. It covers so much.  Just look at the issues facing our country today; problems in families, neighborhoods, communities, business relationships, medical relationships, friendships, civic relationships,, world wide relationships. So much boils down to “if we all treated one another the way we would wish to be treated,” a lot of these problems could be solved. If this lesson is not taught at home to kids don’t expect them to learn it out in the real world  from anyone else, unless they are fortunate enough to have a teacher who teaches it, to them. It’s an easy lesson to teach.  You look at every day situations and then pose the question “Did the person treat the other person the way they would hope to be treated?”

man walking holding boy
Photo by Sabine van Straaten / Unsplash Proverb 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.

     Secondly, respect for authority starts at home. It starts when your children are born.  You are the authority over them. You feed them, you change them, you train them to sleep, they depend on you and you are responsible to God to care for them.  As they grow, you teach them right from wrong, you are the authority. Teach them the hard lessons so that the world will not have to teach them. Begin in the toddler years teaching them to learn to respect their parents. It is imperative early on that a toddler learns to do with the parent says. When I taught parenting classes at church many years ago, I would pose this question to parents, “If your toddler or preschool was running towards the street to get a ball and you saw the car coming but they did not, if you yelled ‘stop!’ would they stop?” Your goal early on is to teach that respect for authority and teach them to mind you, as in a safety situation or life and death, it COULD save their life.  As they get older and understand, of course they will learn to respect God as well as the parent. From there, they will learn to respect a teacher, police officer, or anyone instructed to be an authority over them. So many problems in our world stem from lack respect for authority. We all answer to someone Kids need to learn early, that they too have to respect authority.

police officers in station
Photo by Michael Descharles / Unsplash When people respect authority, our communities are safer.

     Thirdly, teaching a child that work is a good thing will set them up for a life of success and a feeling of self-worth. This can also start early on as a toddler or preschooler by teaching a child to work by picking up their toys before bedtime or nap time or helping pick up sticks in the yard with their family.  From there they can learn to keep tidy their own space clean, making their bed and keeping their closet, drawers and room clean. Age appropriate chores around the house and when they are old enough, a job where they have responsibility to someone besides their parents is a very good thing. That work ethic can cross over to their schoolwork and communicating to them that everyone has a job in the family and their job as a child is to be a good student completing all of their assignments, preparing for class and tests. These skills taught early on can result in many successes through out their life and the kind of successes only they can do for themself.  This is something a parent cannot buy for them.  The child has to earn it and it will give them such self-worth, to have achieve success themselves.

woman in blue and white stripe shirt washing her hands
Photo by CDC / Unsplash

     Finally, I would add one last lesson in my top lessons to teach children. You’re not always going to win and losing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Think about what happens when you lose playing a sport, in comparison to when you win. When you lose, you look back on why you lost. In basketball maybe it was because you didn’t make the free throws. In tennis, maybe you didn’t get your first serve in.  In golf was your putting that was off? When you lose, you look at what you did wrong and where you can improve. When you win and you have success, you’re less likely to do that. Losing makes you hungry to win, sometimes when you lose a battle, you don’t necessarily lose the war. 

basketball player about to free throw
Photo by Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

     Those would be my top four lessons to teach kids.  You will have your own to add to the list and some good methods to teach those lessons to instruct  your children to grow into good people.  Have confidence in your instincts as a parent.  YOU KNOW what is right for your child.  I told an expecting Mom at a baby shower a few weeks ago, “listen to advice from TRUSTED individuals but YOU WILL have your own instincts as to what is right for YOUR child. Parenting is not easy but it is the most important job you will ever do. And, doing it well can lead to many great days for both you and your children.

Author and teacher, Mary Yana Burau 🍎