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5 Tips for Raising Kids You Actually Like

Today’s guest poster, Edie, is truly one of the most awesome people I know.  I first discovered her blog last fall when she hosted a “12 days of Handmade Christmas” series.  I was immediately drawn in by this enchanting Southern former-physician-turned-supermom with the coolest funky turquoise cabinets you’ve ever seen.  Then in December, just a few days before Christmas, tragedy struck Edie’s family when their house burned to the ground.  My heart broke for her, but as I read her posts in the aftermath of losing everything, I couldn’t help but be moved by her faith and strength of character.  We met in person at a blogging conference in January, and I feel so blessed just to know her.  I’m pretty sure that after you read this post, you will too.

Raising Kids You Actually Like | Tips For Raising Happy Healthy Kids | How to Raise Well-Rounded Kids | Parental Hacks | Motherhood | Child Raising

This is a guest post from Edie of Life in Grace

We all love our kids. That’s a given.

But have you ever asked yourself whether or not you like them?

Are they generally likable pleasant human beings?

Can you spend a whole day or week or month with them and really like who they are becoming as people?

Summertime often is the pressure cooker that brings out all our imperfections and it’s a great time to be intentional with our kids.

One of the things I’ve learned since I quit working to stay home is that the more I’m with them the less tolerant I am of their bad behavior. When you spend long stretches of time with your children, you begin to require of them that they be decent people, who are pleasurable to be around. Most of us can tolerate bratty spoiled kids for about an hour. It’s hard to be around them for much longer than that. I think that as a society we are raising a generation of kids who are lazy, sarcastic and demanding and have a tremendous sense of entitlement. And it’s our fault. We have the best intentions. We want them to have the best of everything, we’re worried about their self-esteem. But in an effort to give them what we never had, we seem to have lost the courage to say no. I’ve been as guilty as the next guy and I want to recognize my errant ways and make the necessary changes while there’s still time.

Summer is a great time to take stock and to look for areas of our collective attitudes and behaviors that need improvement.

Here are five little tips that come to mind:

1. Repent.I think we must first start with the premise that we are all sinful, selfish people who are in need of grace and forgiveness. Our most grievous sins are often against the little neighbors that we live with everyday. We must teach them by example to live in repentance. I think it’s important to say the words, “Will you forgive me?” and “Yes, I forgive you.” We live in forgiveness or we live in broken relationships and we must lead by example.

Raising Kids You Actually Like | Tips For Raising Happy Healthy Kids | How to Raise Well-Rounded Kids | Parental Hacks | Motherhood | Child Raising

2. Resist the temptation to over-indulge. Famous child psychologists have said that over indulgent parenting is worse than neglect for children. And often, we are really indulging ourselves and we are not doing our kids any favors. In the end, we are making it impossible for them to be content with the things in life that matter. It’s okay to say no and it’ s a word that doesn’t come easy for me. But I’m getting better. And it’s teaches them to say ‘no’ to themselves which is a hard lesson for all of us.

Raising Kids You Actually Like | Tips For Raising Happy Healthy Kids | How to Raise Well-Rounded Kids | Parental Hacks | Motherhood | Child Raising

3. Read, Read, Read I find that there’s no better way to inspire them toward right thoughts and actions than with the heros and heroines of good books. After reading hundreds of books together with my girls, I am convinced that those books are changing us all. They see in books examples of bad behavior that they want to avoid. I don’t even have to point out the selfish, whiny, bratty characters because they can spot them a mile away. They recognize the traits easily and don’t like seeing them in others and can often see similarities in themselves that they’d like to change.

And there’s nothing like a courageous, honest, pleasant character that you’ve grown to love in a book to inspire you to be the same. Choose wholesome, classic books and watch your children imitate the good they see in others. It sure makes the job of teaching and discipline easier and more pleasant.

4. Require much. Children tend to rise to your expectations—-so raise the bar higher. They are capable of far more than we think and we’ve let our society of peer-driven child rearing dumb us down. Just read a book from a hundred years ago and see how the children were expected to behave. Ten year olds back then were treated nearly as adults and expected to behave as such. We tolerate such poor behavior in kids sometimes and give all manner of excuses as to why little Susie acts the way she does. Little Susie acts that way because we are too busy and have let down our guard. We must do the courageous thing and stand up tall and be parents. Parents that teach our kids how we want them to act. My favorite little trick is to give the girls a pep talk on the way to various activities to tell them exactly what I expect of them.

“When you go into dance today, I want you to make it a point to talk to everyone and be nice to all your friends, not just your favorite one. Ask the other girls if they’d like to sit with you too. Look for someone who’s lonely and try to make a friend. Use a kind welcoming voice and don’t be sarcastic or harsh.”

“When we first arrive at the party, look Ms. SoandSo in the eyes and tell her thank you for inviting you.”

“When it’s time to leave from Johnny’s house, I don’t want to have to tell you repeatedly that it’s time to go. No whining or asking if you can play 5 more minutes. No asking him to our house. Just say yes ma’am and get your stuff and say thank you for having me. Okay? Are we all clear?

It’s amazes me everytime that when I make the expectations clear, they almost always follow the rules.

Raising Kids You Actually Like | Tips For Raising Happy Healthy Kids | How to Raise Well-Rounded Kids | Parental Hacks | Motherhood | Child Raising

5. Redeem the time. They often spend so much time with their peers that they’re not even sure what mature, virtuous behavior looks like. They need you to model it for them. Even though we homeschool, I can tell in my girls’ behavior if they’ve been with peers too much. They’re more sarcastic and shorter tempered with each other. Usually, it takes a few hours of time at home to play or read and it resets their attitudes. I think we highly overvalue childrens’ need to spend time with peers while undervaluing what they gain when they are able to spend long stretches of time with parents and family. This subtle shift in priorities may have a devastating impact on kids. Kids need to be loved and to be understood and noone can do that for them like their parents. If you have kids who are emotional and acting out, it can usually be remedied by time with you. I think we easily forget what pressure it is to try to fit in and do and say and wear the right things in order to be accepted by peers. They’re stressed out and we would be too. Take the pressure off and limit their peer time in favor of time with the family.

We often hear that a small amount of quality time is better for kids than quantity. I read recently, and forgive me that I can’t remember where, that our kids are starving to death on tiny morsels of filet mignon.

They do need large quantities of time from us. And then everyone wins because they get what they need and we, in turn, get kids that we like as well as love.

p.s. Let me let you in on a little secret in case you wondering. I don’t always like mine either, which motivates me even more to do the hard work of repenting, resisting, reading, requiring and redeeming! We’re all in this together. Summer is a great time to be intentional with your parenting. I wish you much joy in the sacred task!

Raising Kids You Actually Like | Tips For Raising Happy Healthy Kids | How to Raise Well-Rounded Kids | Parental Hacks | Motherhood | Child Raising

57 Comments

  1. Amy
    June 1 at 03:18PM

    I want to print these out and hang them in my house for a daily reminder. this is great! What a wonderful positive way to remember what our parents did right. Thanks for the post. I am now a big fan and will follow your blog too.

  2. Lisa G.
    June 1 at 04:01PM

    Thanks so much for this! It is so timely for me as I have been saying lately that though I love my 4 kids, I do not like my 2 teenagers very much sometimes. Our pastor did a great teaching on Esphesians 6:1-4, about children obeying their parents, but also the importance of parents not bringing their children to wrath. These 5 points you raised go far to address that. And your point about time spent with peers is so right on. Alot of that peer time, whether in person or social networking, is spent in activity that does not redeem their time, and we know it is up to us to monitor and limit that. I wonder about, and feel sorry for, these friends of my kids who seem to be online or texting at all hours of the day. I will be sure to follow your blog as well now.

  3. June 1 at 05:24PM

    This is such an amazing post and at a perfect time. Perfect encouragement and inspiration. I agree with all that you’ve posted here and it is difficult at times to correct them and help them to see where their attitudes need adjustment. Spending large chunks of time with them is an eye opener not only for what they need to improve but also what we need to improve in ourselves.

    Ruth-I hope you enjoy your vacation!!!!! I would love to go on an Alaskan cruise and can’t wait to hear all about it.

    Ruth

  4. June 1 at 05:26PM

    Thank you. This is wonderful advice!

  5. June 1 at 05:46PM

    Wonderful advice… really enjoyed this and I don’t even have children…

  6. June 1 at 06:33PM

    OH how I loved this post!!!
    Edie, I always love your insights on parenting in grace and know I’ve learned heaps from you, but this was just what I needed to hear and once again, you’ve been a blessing.
    Thanks as always <3

  7. June 1 at 08:31PM

    I loved it! Thank you for this. I will be following your blog from now on. I am raising 4 boys and it is important to my husband and I to raise children that we like,we will always love them.

  8. Alexandra
    June 1 at 08:39PM

    I came over from your blog, and when I started reading it was like a bucket of cold water. It has been a LOOOONG time since I heard someone suggest that bad behavior shouldn’t be tolerated rather than saying that “all your kid needs is affection”. The line about how when we spend more time with our kids we are less tolerant of their bad behavior and work harder to correct it was like a slap on the back of the head. Of course!!! The solution is not to avoid them or isolate them (from their siblings) but to expect better behavior. And going over expected behavior is great; it works pretty much every time. Thanks for a great post.

  9. June 1 at 10:18PM

    Spot on! As a mother of three and a grandmother of fifteen (all of whom I LIKE), I agree with you on every point! Thank you for spreading the word!

  10. June 1 at 11:42PM

    What a great post, and timely since my boys’ last day of school is tomorrow.

    #5 really resonated with me– I just finished reading Hold On To Your Kids, and the author’s thesis is that children’s primary need is for attachment to their parents and, by extension, families, and that in modern parenting we have far over-emphasized the need for lots of time with peers. This explains the transition I see after intense peer immersion time for my boys– over a few days primarily at home, they are more peaceful, centered, compliant and gentle.

    Bravo on a good post– I’ve already shared it with a friend and I’ll be returning to it myself.

  11. June 2 at 12:02AM

    Spot on, Mama E!

  12. June 2 at 01:33AM

    exactly.what.i.needed.tonight.

    edie always reminds me of the truth that i already know, and i love her for it.

    she is as intentional as they come….

  13. sarina
    June 2 at 11:32AM

    Oh, so true! We homeschool our girls and the question I get most is, “What about their social development they will be missing from being in a classroom with peers?” My answer is I don’t want my kids learning their social skills from their peers. Most of them are as you say demanding, spoiled, and lazy. It’s easy for kids to get like this given an economy we were so blessed to be in. However, with the decline of our economy, we might have a chance to get back to the basics. The things that really matter and start to appreciate our blessings rather than a constant drive for more, more, more.

    Loved your post. You don’t hear people talk that anymore. It’s refreshing to know and read a view as yours. Thank you.

  14. Amanda
    June 2 at 01:28PM

    BEAUTIFUL

  15. June 2 at 03:05PM

    You nailed it Edie. Love ya!

  16. June 2 at 06:20PM

    Great tips! I recently blogged about some awesome tips when grocery shopping and websites to check out and save. It’s amazing the ways you can save. It really is easier than most people think!

    Love the blog!

    ~DearSarahBlog

  17. Cassie
    June 2 at 08:43PM

    Well said!! Bookmarking this! Thanks for sharing!!

  18. June 3 at 02:12AM

    This post has just become a required read each morning! I loved reading your post and feel so refreshed to read the very thoughts I have, but could never find the right words. I am the mother of a 13 year old son, 11 year old stepdaughter and a 2 year old son. My husband & I have very different parenting styles that were molded in our upbringing. I want my children to be good boys then men, have goals and expectations for themselves, strong and independent thinkers that truly appreciate the all the things in life and the hard work and dedication required to get there.
    Thanks again and I look forward to following your blog going forward.

  19. Alia
    June 3 at 02:15AM

    Well said! I am printing this and hanging it on my fridge! Thank-you so much!

  20. Annette
    June 3 at 03:45AM

    I really enjoyed reading this and feel like it is very wise advice. I have 3 grown children and am raising my great neice. There have been times that I did not like my kids even now as adults but most of the time I feel they have turned out pretty good. My great neice is 4 and is special needs, she has epilepsy and we are still trying to get her seizure free, she just had a 4 minute one this morning. I love her as if she were my own child, she is truly a handful and a blessing at the same time. I can relate to what Ruth said about Trouble being Gods way of teaching her she is not in control of everything. I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your guest blog on here and I guess share a bit of myself. Thank You.

  21. June 3 at 01:42PM

    K, I’m back. 🙂 I came back to get tips because I need a little ‘tune-up’ now that I’ve got my kids back for the summer.

    #4 Had me laughing…I pretty much do the exact thing, always have…and it really does work. Parents and teachers are always impressed with their behavior (not tooting my own horn here, because trust me, I fall short in many areas). I also think by doing this, the kids hear the compliments, like the way it feels and then want to have good behavior.

    #3 & #5…need some work. We’ve unfortunately gotten away from our reading together since they went back to public school. I so miss it and you’re right, they love it and classic books are a fabulous way to model good & bad behavior. Also, thanks for the reminder about spending big amounts of time with them. My kids don’t hang with their friends a ton, but I can definitely see that I need to take a break from all my daily tasks/hobbies and give them quaility time…not to mention, be a better role model. Just tell me I don’t have to give up my Real Housewives addiction!?!?! :0

    • Carolyn B
      January 26 at 12:43AM

      If you are watching Real Housewives of Anything, your kids should be spending time with you for your protection. Remember the advice of modeling correct behavior. I wouldn’t let my child watch a reality show, so why should I give it my time? God bless all moms on this thread.

  22. June 3 at 06:46PM

    bookmarked.
    thank you, edie, for these words that I will be printing out.
    love you for this encouragement.
    thanks for hosting, ruth.:)

  23. June 4 at 02:53PM

    Such practical advice! I work as a Director of Children’s Ministries at church I wish I could share this with the families I serve. I love that you aren’t afraid to ask of your children and have expectation. A very old message that you don’t hear much of anymore. I’m new to your blog, you have a lovely home, BUT beyond that you are a very wise woman!

  24. Mama3davis
    June 5 at 11:40AM

    Edie, You always inspire me. Thank you so much!

  25. June 5 at 05:58PM

    perfect, edie. actually made me cry. but i do that all the time, don’t i?! 🙂
    you are a wonderful mother and i hope to demonstrate as much grace and love to my children as you do to yours.
    ruth… hope you are having fun!!
    xo

  26. Heidi
    June 6 at 04:32PM

    I really enjoyed this! Edie you so inspire me!! I tend to do this with my kids already but lately I’ve been letting my guard down and every now and then I find myself raising my eyebrow at my own kids. They know when they’ve overstepped those boundaries. I’m fortunate of that but I want my kids to be people that not only I want to be around but that others want them to be around. Thank you so much for reminding me with your grace filled words!! I think I need to print this out just for me to read each morning. 🙂

  27. Wow, that was a wonderful read. I often find myself feeling like I need to better myself as a parent, and sometimes feel overwhelmed by that…yet know that I want my daughters to grow up to be beautiful godly women. What a responsibility! 🙂 Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to putting all of these bits of wisdom into practice! 🙂

  28. Heather
    June 13 at 04:56AM

    Thank you Edie. So much wisdom in this
    Post. It sure is such a challenge raising
    up kids of virtue in our culture. I so appreciate
    all of your wonderful advise!

  29. Lara
    June 14 at 04:37PM

    Oh how I love this post!. I have 4 kids (5yo girl, 3 yo boy and 9 mo old twin boys). My friends tell me all the time how well behaved my children are and how they wish they could get their children to behave as such. It’s never too early to teach our children manners. I think society tries to be politically correct and people do not want to discipline their children. I address issues immediately regardless of where we are. You are so right in that when you lay out the expectations, your children will more than likely follow them.

  30. betsy berre
    June 21 at 07:35PM

    thanks so much edie! i found edies blog, life in grace, from darbys fly thru our window, and i love getting a peek into their lives. thank you for this lovely insight. my kids are 1 and 2 and our 3rd child is due in november. i have been thinking so much about what they will be like when they are all in their teens and i just have to remember to keep praying. thanks for this

  31. betsy berre
    June 21 at 07:58PM

    http://theberres.blogspot.com/2011/06/river-in-time-out-and-flora-just-had-to.html

    ok i had to share this with my family and friends
    thanks again

  32. sarah
    June 22 at 03:22AM

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Reluctantly, I homeschooled one of our three children last year. And, boy, was I humbled. The experience was wonderful and it changed my son and I’s relationship in such a dramatically positive way. I especially loved your point about time with peers. We have noticed the same phenomena with our children (same goes for too much time spent with electronics). Do the hard stuff, your children will thank you!

  33. M
    June 25 at 02:54AM

    GOD BLESS YOU!!!
    I wish this set of tips were given to every single parent in the world when their child was born & they were reminded of them every 6 months. You are doing a wonderful thing that will benefit us all in the future.
    Thank you so much!

  34. September 20 at 11:25PM

    Awesome post – just found it via pinterest! I am printing it out as I type and pinning it (literally) to my corkboard 🙂 Thank you.

  35. November 16 at 12:12AM

    Hi Edie my wife loves your blog. Thank you. You mentioned Read, would elaborate on your favorite books you have read to your chilren? Thank you for pointing us back to the basics.

  36. January 28 at 12:56PM

    Do you have a reading list you could post of the books you suggest for family reading?

  37. February 3 at 03:22PM

    Great post! I totally agree that we expect much less of our kids now than a couple of generations ago. People are surprised when we tell them that our daughter was potty trained early or to see her eat every veggie on her plate without complaint. Granted, I think my kids are the easy type, but still I know that these tips are incredibly important! Pinning.

  38. February 13 at 10:08PM

    Thank you. Really, thank you.

  39. March 6 at 11:38PM

    Your points are exactly what I’m saying in the back of my head everyday about parenting in this crazy modern world. We’re going to start homeschooling our oldest this year and your last point about redeeming time perfectly articulated what I’ve been trying to tell people when they show concern about “socialization.” This is a great post! I just shared it on Facebook and I pray that some of my friends (wink, wink) read it!

  40. Christina
    March 7 at 12:00AM

    Edie, is it?

    My heart feels just a little bit better tonight, after reading this. Thank you for what you have shared, here.

    I have a 3 year old, and a 1.5 year old, and it seems like everything you described, is what I have been trying to put into practice… despite the pressure I feel from family, and other outside sources, to not follow my gut, or really, what I believe the Lord has allowed me to discern that my children need from me. Thankfully, I have a husband who is with me 99% of the way (sometimes I get a little too strict or expect a little too much, and he lets me know to dial it back a bit) Still, I sometimes wonder if I’m doing it all wrong, if I need to lighten up as others tell me, to not take parenting so seriously as others tell me… I really start to feel like a loser sometimes.

    But, then, I read your article tonight and man I’m on top of the world, because I DO like my children! They have their moments as any young children do… and also, because lets face it I could be doing a lot better with my OWN character growth and all they reflect is what they see… But anyhow, I appreciate what you’ve said because it just reinforces what I feel passionate about since day one of becoming a momma, and it has helped me see that I’m not doing it all wrong.

    God bless you.

  41. Tara
    March 7 at 02:36AM

    What are the books you are reading with your children? Thanks!

  42. March 8 at 09:09AM

    Great article!! My apologies if someone already asked, but would love to know if Edie has any favortie “wholesome, classic” books that she recommends. I have two boys and a third on the way. 🙂

  43. Andie
    March 8 at 11:32AM

    Thank you for this article! I was feeling a bit down the other day because I wish I could give/provide more (materialistic) for my son & daughter. This reinforces they need more of me & saying no because we can’t is not necessarily a bad thing. I just need to explain it them. God bless you, your family, & this wonderful blog 🙂

  44. August 15 at 12:09AM

    Pretty! This has been an incredibly wonderful post.
    Thanks for supplying this information.

  45. September 30 at 08:55PM

    This design is steller! You definitely know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start
    my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  46. April 29 at 02:16PM

    This was a great post! I printed this off as well because it is such a great reminder to just stop what you are doing and remember it is ok to say NO. I sometimes feel I am saying it a lot but then again, I can’t feel bad for saying it! We are also book lovers over here and I think that a book is way better for gifts than anything you can give a child.

  47. May 25 at 11:58PM

    This is so difficult to do. I agree with it but it’s incredibly exhausting trying to guide and control a 15-month-old in this way. He is a good boy but he’s entered the testing stage, and everything is a battle. I’d welcome any suggestions…sometimes I feel overwhelmed. 🙁

  48. May 26 at 03:33AM

    This is the best parenting article I’ve ever read. By some miracle I do most of these but I love number 4! Laying out clear expectations and training them how to act in specific situations at the same time. So good.

  49. March 9 at 12:33PM

    I find this part to be the most interesting one:

    3. READ, READ, READ I FIND THAT THERE’S NO BETTER WAY TO INSPIRE THEM TOWARD RIGHT THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS THAN WITH THE HEROS AND HEROINES OF GOOD BOOKS. AFTER READING HUNDREDS OF BOOKS TOGETHER WITH MY GIRLS, I AM CONVINCED THAT THOSE BOOKS ARE CHANGING US ALL. THEY SEE IN BOOKS EXAMPLES OF BAD BEHAVIOR THAT THEY WANT TO AVOID. I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO POINT OUT THE SELFISH, WHINY, BRATTY CHARACTERS BECAUSE THEY CAN SPOT THEM A MILE AWAY. THEY RECOGNIZE THE TRAITS EASILY AND DON’T LIKE SEEING THEM IN OTHERS AND CAN OFTEN SEE SIMILARITIES IN THEMSELVES THAT THEY’D LIKE TO CHANGE.

    I also found many great articles here: parentsupporthub.com

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