When our four year-old son asked if he could have a candy bar at the grocery store, I said no, and he said, okay, and the woman behind me said, “Wow, I’ve never seen that before.” She couldn’t recall seeing a child take no for an answer without whining. Usually children beg and whine and complain until the parent gives in.

Here’s the key to raising children who have great character and good behavior.

It’s not what you do for your children…it’s what you DON’T do. Believe it or not, parents can be the reason children behave poorly and have less than stellar character.

Three things parents should never do for their children.

NUMBER ONE: Don’t ask twice.

Do not demand that your children pay attention to you. Command their attention instead.

Don’t ask twice. Don’t count down. Never plead. Never bribe. Make sure your children know that you will only make your request once.

I trained our children to pay attention when an adult speaks. They knew there were very real consequences were to pay if they did not listen the first time.

I learned early on to say what I mean and mean what I say. For example, if you tell a child “No running at the pool,” that is not enough. You must say, “I don’t want you to run while you’re at the pool. It’s slippery; you could fall and accidentally hurt yourself. I don’t want you to get hurt, so I’m making sure you understand the rule. No running. If I catch you running, you will have to sit out for the rest of the day. That won’t be fun. Do you understand the consequences of running at the pool?”

Yes, it takes more time to explain things this way, but the end result is if the child runs, he has made his choice to sit out.

A good parent always keeps his word and enforces the consequences.
If they run and have to sit out and they complain, you can say, “I’m sorry. Was I speaking in a foreign language? Did you not understand what I meant when I said no running? Oh, you forgot. I understand. Sometimes I forget things, too. But mostly, I remember the important stuff. It’s my job as a parent to help you remember the important stuff. If you had forgotten your towel, I would have given you mine. But if you forgot to not run and fell and seriously injured yourself, I would have to take you to the emergency room for some expensive stitches. You think you won’t fall? Yes, I know how agile you are, but that is why they call them accidents, dear.”

Vocabulary lesson are free. Trips to the emergency room are not.

Remember, when a parent goes back on this work, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, the child has learned to disrespect you and your word has no authority. They become accustomed to not listening and they stop attaching weight to what you say.

NUMBER TWO: Don’t do chores your children are capable of doing.

That’s right. Each family member should expected to take on responsibilities according to their abilities, which is why I made sure that when our children were growing up, they did not get paid for helping out around the house.

Our children were trained to do laundry since they were around ten or eleven years old. They fed and walked the dog, made their own school lunches, loaded and emptied the dishwasher, set and cleared the table. It’s the parents’ job to manage the household and that implies delegation, not exploitation.

When children complain, “Why do I have to take out the garbage?” don’t say because I told you so. Offer to do the job for them in exchange for one of the jobs you do, say shopping for and then preparing the dinner meal, or balancing the checkbook, paying the bills, etc. They will get the picture, especially if you go through with your offer. The key is to keep your word.

The key to making this work is training.

My husband and I took a lot of time to teach our children how to pre-spot clothing, how to fold and put away laundry, load the dishwasher properly, scrub a toilet, change a tire, take out the garbage so it doesn’t leak, etc. We trained them specifically so they could know how to please us. Without specific instruction, they could have tried and failed to meet our expectations leaving the job for us to do all over again.

This requires a lot of your time up front but in the long run, the payoff is tremendous.

NUMBER THREE: Don’t give your children a lot.

We live in a materialistic world. But the truth is children do not need more stuff to keep them happy. Friends can have the latest gizmos, games and gadgets, that’s fine. Our children, on the other hand, had one or two interesting hobbies.

Since our goal was to make sure our children grew up knowing how to do a lot with a little, we were able to be consistent on this “you don’t need it - you want it” concept.

It’s not a common concept these days, but let me ask you this -- how will children develop ingenuity if we give them everything they ask for or think they need? How will they develop creativity if we allow them to be constantly entertained by video games and television? How will (and why would) they become resourceful citizens if they’ve never had to work and save to acquire something, or solve a problem?

Sometimes, if not most of the time, the best thing we can do for our children is NOT giving them what they think they want or need.
If they say to you, “I have to have this video game,” you can ask them why they feel that way and have a discussion about needs verses wants. Or, you could help them devise a plan as to how they could acquire that game. Or, you could introduce a new hobby and take the time to get them going in a different direction, one that holds more value than playing video games.

It was because of what we DIDN’T do for our three children that they grew up to be respectful, responsible, and resourceful young adults. For more information go to http://www.201thingstodo.com

Author's Bio: 

Author, speaker and educator Jodie Randisi helps individuals and families overcome obstacles. She is a certified Family Manager, published author and award-winning speaker.