No Boredom with Kids and Teens Around

Got kids and teens in your house? Lucky you! No, seriously. Really. With children and teens in your household, you’re guaranteed a front-row seat at this crazy little thing we call life.

Anything can happen with kids around, and it usually does. From washing the family dog with mom’s expensive shampoo to learning to use dad’s tools for the first time, having young ones in the house gives us grown-ups a chance to be witty, wise and foolish all at the same time.

One of the first things to remember when you’re in a household with kids and teens, whether you’re a resident grown-up or a visitor, is that young people are people, too. Remember what it was like when you were a kid? Did you feel that nobody listened to you or respected you? So don’t talk down to them, just talk with them (not at them).

Fortunately today there are plenty of resources to help parents build age-appropriate responsibilities and relationships with their children and teens. Even a child as young as age 3 can be taught to put away her toys if you make a game of it. As a child matures, he can take on more duties, like stacking up the canned goods for Mom and Dad when they come home from the grocery store.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past half-century or so, it’s that making our youngsters’ lives too easy for them doesn’t help them develop necessary skills. Being a “helicopter parent,” one that swoops in to make everything all right when something bad happens, really can handicap your youngster.

So what to do? Four simple rules: Listen, look, learn and let go.

Mothers have some of the keenest ears in the world, especially for those times when things get “too quiet.” But don’t just listen for the bad things that happen, listen for the good things as well. Compliment your children and teens when you hear them doing something right. Take them aside and draw out their feelings when you hear them expressing anger or sadness or frustration.

And look at them. Recent research has shown that babies are “hard-wired” to recognize faces very early in life. If all your youngster gets from you is a passing glance, you’re both missing out…not to mention askin’ from trouble when they’re old enough to cause it!

Learn from your kids and teens as well. Grown-ups don’t know everything, and youngsters have some doggone good insights – and they’re funny, too. Plus, it gives them a big thrill when they get to teach Mom or Dad, Grandma or Grandpa something cool, like a new game or a sport. Play games with them, especially some of the newer digital and video games that are meant to bring families together, though I’m personally still a fan of the board games.

Finally, do the hardest thing of all: let them go. Let them swing on the big swing. Let them climb that tree. Let them have the car keys. Let them know that letting them go means you have confidence in them. They’ll be proud and happy – and so will you!