Compassion. This is so important to instill in our children as early as we possibly can. It definitely is easier if they have siblings, but there are also opportunities to cultivate this quality at the park, library, any classes you might have them in, & so forth. When another child falls or trips, even if an adult falls or trips, it is so important to teach our children not only not to laugh, but also to have the courtesy to stop what they are doing to see if that person is okay or requires any help. When we are first trying to teach this concept to our children, we are definitely going to have to remind them a lot & also make sure we too are emulating the compassion behavior we want to see in them, but after awhile it will become second nature to them.
Compassion, thinking about others, can also be taught even just walking through a store. If you do not know by now, my ladies favorite store is the "red store". Automatically, when a child walks through a toy aisle, it is only natural for them to like things & want things, but what my husband & I try to do is help expand their focus to look beyond just what they might like & think about things their sisters might enjoy or 1 of their friends. I do not want to raise kids who think it is all about them all of the time, but I want them to have the ability to look beyond themselves & have hearts for others. I want them to know that while they are blessed to have a nice amount of clothing, toys, & food (sadly) not all kids have that same luxury.
Manners. Raising polite kids extends beyond them just being able to say "please" or "thank you". Some kids might tend to act more shy & quiet around others, but it is still very important to encourage them to not use these personality traits as crutches in life. When they are being spoken to they still need to use eye contact & project when they speak. It is so difficult to not just step in & speak for them, but it is vital that we don't. Asher is my second born & definitely had the tendencies of a "shy person", but I refused to let myself or her sister step in & speak for her. I had to refuse to let her stand behind my legs to try & hide when someone was asking her a question. I would not let her respond to people with a mumble or a shrug, because I knew she had the ability to speak up & state her opinions. It took awhile, but she has definitely grown a great deal because we refused to let her take the "easy way out" of situations.
There are also kids who tend to be so fun loving & carefree that manners sometimes are innocently forgotten. I am all about those spunky ones (Aussie Rose!--Lol), but there are also tendencies in this type of personality that I believe should not just be accepted because "that's just the way they are". Austin would definitely prefer moving around 99% of the time, but the fact of the matter is that there are different times & places where that type of behavior is not going to work. That rambunctious cutie has to be able to sit quietly at times & save all the wonderful things she wants to say for a later. Even though she does tend to live in "Aussie's World", she still can't just carelessly push past others with no regard because she is not paying attention. It is so very important for her to learn to be able to stand still at times, give eye contact, & listen when an adult is trying to give her instruction. We have to start so young training our kiddos these lil' things now, because changing bad habits is definitely much harder when they are older. A 2 year old interrupting while you are on the phone might be kind of cute now, but when a 10 or 11 year old is doing it the cuteness factor definitely wears off. Raising respectful, well-mannered, & patient kids is a whole lot of work & you definitely have to be "on it" a lot. BUT, and that is a big but, if you put in the hard work now then things will be so much easier for your future & theirs'!
Play. It is a very valuable thing to look & listen in from time to time on how your kiddos play & interacy with each other & other kids. Are they bossy? Do they not like to share? Are they a good sport when they lose? Do they let others "bully them" into playing things they do not want to or give up toys before they are ready? This kind of observation is priceless because some characteristics, if not fine tuned & ironed out, can have some negative affects on what kinds of friendships they have later on in life...or if they have any friends at all for that matter.
Some children, usually oldest or only children, tend to be somewhat bossy when playing or communicating with others. I am sure most of you are familiar with the phrase "I'm going to take my ball & go home!". If not, then the Urban Dictionary defines this expression as: "I want to be in control of the situation and if I can't then no one is going to be allowed to be happy about the outcome". This is a very sour puss attitude that we as parents need to never accept or cater to in our kids. Sure, toddlers & younger kids might be accepting of this type of behavior from a kid while they are young & more naive, but as that child gets further into grade school, fewer & fewer kids are going to put up with it. What a heartbreak you are not only setting your child up for, but also yourself. When they have barely any friends or no friends down the road because they get mad every time they lose at a game or things are not done their way constantly, it is going to tug at your heart strings too! At the earliest signs of any sort of bossiness, bad sportsmanship, or selfishness we might recognize in our children it is the ideal time to iron them out & fix them. I think next to "no", the next negative word most toddlers like to test out is "mine!". Again, we have to jump on those things early!!!
Now, while we do not want to have kids who are overly bossy, kids who are pushovers is also not the most ideal situation. If you notice your child has the tendency to let kids just kind of push them around & take toys from them even if they are not finished yet, this is also a reason to step in. We have to teach our children to be able to stand up for themselves & use their words in a respectful way when others try to "bully" them during playtime. Screaming is not a productive way to voice their opinions, although from time time to our kids might think it is, but having the tools to effectively communicate with others is essential. If they do not want to play something another child wants them to play with, all they have to do is say something as simple as "I do not really want to play that yet, maybe in a lil' while". If they are not done with a toy yet, helping them understand that respectfully saying, "I am not done with this toy yet, but you can have it when I am finished" is all they have to do. I want to raise kids who can play well with others, but do not feel obligated to do something just to please their sister or friend. They are allowed to like what they like & feel they way they feel (within reason...no tantrums). Their is a delicate balance to be found between being overly bossy to being a complete pushover & with a lil' parental guidance we can help our kiddos find it if they use some compromise & effective communication.
I think most parents want to raise kids who will grow up to be positive contributing members of society, but we just have to realize the work starts now! Along the way it is definitely going to be some work & ironing out some things may prove to be more challenging than others, but the results will be WELL worth it in the end. Don't lose heart!!!