6 rules for raising healthy, responsible children

Raising kids today is tough. Not only do they have access to all kinds of stuff on the internet, they can also fall into bad habits even earlier. But you can help them grow up right. Here's how:

6 rules for raising healthy, responsible children

1. Don't interfere with sibling scuffles

  • Stay out of fights between siblings unless bloodshed is imminent.
  • Fighting actually teaches siblings valuable skills, including assertion, managing anger and compromise.
  • If ignoring a fight doesn't work, send them to separate rooms until they cool off.

2. Limit choices

  • An inexperienced parent will ask a four-year-old, "What do you want to wear today?" Offering such an open-ended choice just invites trouble.
  • Instead, pull out two outfits and ask them to choose.
  • The same goes with food. Give them a choice instead of asking, "What do you want for lunch today?"

3. Talk about sex

  • The reality is that 85 percent of North American teens have had sex by the age of 19.
  • Get over your embarrassment and let your teen know that they can talk to you about sex without fear of lectures or retribution.
  • Open discussions at least ensure that the sex they're having is safe, and may even convince your teen to hold off a while longer.

4. Monitor your teen's driving speed

  • If your teen has a lead-footed tendency, step in and address it.
  • A University of Florida study found that teenagers who break the speed limit are more likely to gamble, use drugs and drink alcohol than those who don't.
  • Think of speeding as an early warning sign of worse to come.

5. Moms, get closer

If you think you're not necessary now that your kid is driving, think again. Here are some ways to nurture the bond with teens:

  • Set a weekly date for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Have a mother-kid weekend away a couple of times a year.
  • Start an activity that you can do with your teen, such as tennis, jogging or even performing together in the local theatre.
  • Begin a marathon gin rummy game that goes on until one of you hits 100,000 points (or goes to college).

6. Set your expectations high

  • Just because you drank and smoked pot in high school, don't think it's reasonable for your kid to follow suit.
  • If you vocalize the expectation that your child will not drink or do drugs when in high school, you reduce the risk that your child will engage in such behaviour.

Raising responsible, law-abiding citizens is never easy. But with the right balance of openness and assertiveness, your kids can grow up to be excellent members of society.

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