Teenagers are mysterious creatures! I was baffled in my first few weeks as a high school teacher. I could not crack the teenage code. Until I quit looking at them as adults and saw them as the beautiful children they are-children still trying to figure out life all while making some extremely adult decisions. They are just kids who all deserve love. This made me think about how similar my students are to my own girls. Our girls are four and six, fresh out of the toddler stage. It was in realizing this that I noticed that there are five key lessons to teach a toddler to help them become a successful teen.
1. Shower Them With Love
Show your toddler unending love. Have you read the book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett? Memorize this iconic line, “You is kind, you is smart and you is important,” and then breathe this mantra into your children.
Every time I come across this image of this quote I get choked up. Do I always talk to my girls like this? Honest truth, no. I don’t always take the time to talk to my girls with this in mind. However, I urge you (myself included) to try. It is abundantly apparent when a teenager has the self-confidence that comes from knowing they are loved.
Why is this important?
Unfortunately, there are many many teenagers roaming the halls who have no idea what it is like to feel this kind of support and love at home. It is of the upmost importance that these students feel love in other aspects of life – from teachers, staff, and peers. Here’s where you come in: when you fill your toddler with support and love, they will mimic this behavior. They may grow up to be a light for another student by simply being kind. Your teenager can make all the difference in the life of another student simply by being kind to them.
Right now the song in my car is super catchy. It goes something like this, “Say please and thank you, these are words you need to know…”
Simple, catchy and SO much truth. Take the time to encourage your toddler to be kind and use their manners. This lesson and routine will stick with them as the grow into teens, and their teachers will appreciate the fact that you taught them to be courteous.
Growing up I was always told that lying would result in consequences far greater than the crime committed. This is something I relay to all of my students. I would rather each student fail and fail hard than lie. Then we can figure out the missing pieces, and we can reevaluate and learn together.
Cheating does nothing. It pushes students along when they are not ready to do so.
Teach your toddler that it is OK to fail. Expect it, praise it, and most importantly, teach lessons on how to learn from failure.
Our girls learned from a very early age that their actions have consequences.
You want to disobey and leave your toys in the yard after being asked to put them away? OK. What’s that? Your toys need to go in the trash because the rain ruined them? Bummer, this is a hard lesson to learn. Let’s talk about what we can do differently next time to avoid this situation.
Right there, stop. Reread that last sentence if you need to. Hold your children accountable and teach them to learn from mistakes. Let them learn that their actions will result in consequences. Real actions and real results with no one to blame but themselves. Don’t let them blame the weather for ruining their toys. No, the weather did not disobey and leave the toys out in the yard!
Can you see how this applies to teenagers? Don’t let your toddler run the house and get away with things when a natural consequence should occur from a choice they made. I would be willing to bet this toddler will present far more issues in ten years if they don’t learn to take ownership of their actions.
Encourage your toddler to try new things! Lots and lots of things. Read books, go to the library, dance, make food together, learn, explore and read! Did I say read again? …English teacher push. Encourage your child to try when they are fearful and think they can’t do something. Teach your toddler that sometimes being present and putting forth effort is all it takes for one spark to catch fire!