WebSafety is a FREE app for parents to monitor social media and web browsing on mobile devices.
All parents want to help their kids grow into happy, well-adjusted individuals. Unfortunately, the handbook has yet to be written that guarantees this outcome. For the most part, parents have to learn what works as they go along, often through a long, messy process of muddy pants, tear-stained faces and slammed doors.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to increase your odds of rearing successful children. Make a few of the following simple changes to your parenting habits and you'll be giving your kids the skills they need to lead fulfilling, prosperous lives.
Require your kids to do work
It's often tempting to do household chores yourself. You can do it faster, more efficiently and you don't have to train anyone else to do it. But like the adage of teaching a man to fish, the time you spend now helping your kids learn to work will pay dividends in the long run.
Start them early with age-appropriate chores like the ones suggested by About.com Housekeeping. Two-year-olds can help feed pets or dust with socks on their hands. Eight-year-olds can mop, sweep and help fold laundry. As they get older, they can be trusted with more complex tasks.
Read to your kids
Reading is something even working parents can do for their kids, and it has long-lasting rewards for both children and adults. It provides quality bonding time where the child knows he or she is the sole focus of mommy or daddy's attention. It also benefits them in school when they learn to read.
"Children 4 to 5 years of age who are read to three to five times a week are six months ahead of their peers in terms of reading acumen," according to a Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research study cited by The Huffington Post.
Help them find volunteer opportunities
When kids volunteer, they learn to think less selfishly. Kids won't naturally know how to care about others outside their families without opportunities to practice empathy. Look around the community to find out what kinds of service projects are going on or check with hospitals, nursing homes and animal shelters for ongoing volunteer programs.
Developing the habit of saving money should start when kids are young. Thomas C. Corley, accountant, author and motivational speaker, suggests parents have their kids save 25 percent of what they earn. When they're old enough to build up a steady supply of money, accompany them to the bank to open a savings account and help them make regular deposits. When they want to make big purchases, help them save their money so they can learn the value of a dollar and the time they spend earning it.
Encourage daily exercise
Like learning to love vegetables, learning to enjoy exercise doesn't come easily. But if you help kids learn to enjoy physical activity when they're young, they'll continue that habit into adolescence and adulthood. Sign them up for sports, get them memberships to athletic clubs, and participate in physical play as a family. If you've got a few minutes before dinner, play catch in the yard. If there's a neighborhood pool, sign them up for swimming lessons during the summer.
Help them set short-term and long-term goals
Goals, like responsibilities, can grow in scope and complexity as kids age. When they're little, help your children set goals to become potty-trained, to learn to ride a tricycle, to earn money for a much-coveted toy. Older kids can save money for a car, for college or for a fun vacation.
These goals will help them learn to think further ahead than what they might eat for today's lunch. It also teaches them the value of delayed gratification, For instance, if they choose not to buy a piece of candy today, eventually they'll get something that brings much more pleasure than the fleeting sweetness of sugar.
Stay involved in their lives
As kids get older, they start to lead lives separate from their parents. This is a natural, positive transition, but as they become more independent they still need their parents' oversight and guidance, especially when it comes to navigating the perilous waters of electronic devices, social media and the Internet.
One way to keep up with your kids' Internet and mobile device usage is by using an app like WebSafety that allows you to track what they do online and on their phones. You can receive notifications when they receive texts with derogatory or vulgar words, see what photos they post online, set geo-fences that alert you when your child enters potentially inappropriate areas, monitor their social media usage, and set curfews for when mobile devices can be used.
Download the WebSafety app to your child's mobile device to find out what more you can do to ensure your kids' safety online.