#CLEMAMA: 5 Things Parents of Younger Children Should Know

#CLEMAMA: 5 Things Parents of Younger Children Should Know

Sara Carnes, pictured on left, with her two daughters.

One of my favorite songs is called “Dear Younger Me,” by Mercy Me. We play it on air, and every time I hear it, the song makes me think. I know we all have things we’d probably do differently if our “older self” could give us some advice. And that’s what the song is all about.

My daughters are 10 years apart, so I feel like I’ve had a little opportunity to see things play out with my first daughter, and then learn and maybe do things differently with my younger daughter. And now… looking back, now that my younger daughter is in the sixth grade, these are a few things I’d tell my “younger me” as a parent. Maybe they’ll be helpful to you, too. 

 It’s OK for Your Kids to be Bored.

Try to curb the need to entertain kids, or always have an activity planned for them. Kids need some boredom. Don’t constantly give them electronics. For example, when you’re out on a drive, have them look out the window or just think, instead of watching a DVR or playing on the iPad. I’ve learned boredom is important in building creativity and imagination in my kids (and myself). 

 Make Them Practice.

I can’t tell you how many times my older daughter has reminded me and said… “I can’t believe you let me quit piano!” I get it; kids don’t like to practice. But we’ve found that if you get through the hard stretch and offer incentives, they’ll get through it. My younger daughter doesn’t like practicing, either, but as parents we’ve decided playing an instrument is important. So having them stick to it – even when they complain – is key. 

 It’s OK to be Last.

I’d remind my kids they don’t have to be first at everything. Winning is wonderful and important in many ways… but it’s not everything. I’d teach them that it’s more important in life to step back and help others than worry about being the first or the best. 

 Play Outside When You Can.

My girls have always played outside a lot, but I think this is an important one. There are so many things to learn about nature. There’s so much to explore, and it helps give kids a sense of adventure. Make them play outside more. 

Make Your Kids Do Chores.

Even when they’re young, kids can learn so much from doing their own chores. I’ve learned that having kids help make their own lunch is very beneficial. For example, my daughters started making their own school lunches around fourth or fifth grade. For us, it was a great way for them to learn how to make healthy, creative lunches that they actually wanted to eat. Both my kids started doing their own laundry at about age 10. Kids who learn to do chores at early ages really learn a sense of responsibility and important life skills that will take them through life.

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