Bedtime can be one of the most challenging and daunting times of the day and really doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you have got your Toddler into bed, don’t close his bedroom door, leave it open. Many children can be afraid of the dark for no reason at all. Therefore, it will be reassuring for him if he wakes up in the middle of the night, and doesn’t feel cut off from the rest of the family. Pitch blackness can be very intimidating and scary for a young child.
In any case, virtually all young children do not need complete darkness to sleep. When they are tired, they will sleep anywhere, even in bright sunlight. How many times have you seen a small child fast asleep in his parent’s arms, in the middle of the day? It can also be a good discipline for later on in life. My theory is that it may well help keep your child with an ‘open’ attitude to you and others, as he grows older. Hopefully it will help avoid him trying to always close himself off in his bedroom when he is a teenager, and distancing himself from the rest of the family. It’s amazing how something as simple and unscientific as this, can help promote good habits, later on in life. And these habits definitely last in later years.
I always found that our children didn’t need silence to sleep. Young children sleep if they are tired, and if they are not, then they don’t. It can be reassuring for your young child to hear normal family background noise when they go to sleep, so they do not feel cut off at bed time. It also means that your family can continue its normal household (sometimes noisy) routines in the evening. It is very important for your child’s development that he is raised in as normal household environment as possible. It goes without saying that normality is relative, and based on your particular religion and culture
Sometimes a little night light in the background, or even just the bathroom light, particularly when your child is very young, will prevent him becoming afraid of the dark. Because he has this light on, as he grows older, darkness should never become an issue for him.
This is one of the most important things you can do as the father of a teenager. Lead by example: work hard, be nice to people, be consistent, respect others and their opinions, and be honest with yourself and your children (as well as others). Your child will be observing you very closely, although he may very often appear not to care at all what you are saying or doing.
As a Father with a teenager, you need to continue to pass on your life skills (only the good ones of course, even if your teenager quite likes some of your bad ones). These cover a wide variety of areas, such as social interaction with others, management of finances and the need to work hard to achieve things in life.
An area that is very often ignored by parents is the development of personal Financial Management skills. This is absolutely vital for your child to learn as this life skill could have very serious implications and even ruin your child’s life when he is older, if he doesn’t know how to manage this. The importance of grasping an understanding first and then managing this area of his life is a key life discipline.
You will need to make a real effort to teach your child this skill and it should start when he becomes a teenager, if not before. He will by now be receiving pocket money from you, to buy the personal things he wants, some of which he cannot afford. You need to discuss with him about the concept of working to earn money, then budgeting and managing how to balance his immediate need with what he can afford. He needs to understand that he must save a portion of his weekly money until he has sufficient funds to buy that special purchase he wants. This is a very important message to get over to him, as it is very dangerous and potentially disastrous if he doesn’t understand this concept when he becomes an adult.
Your child will already have an idea of what he is good at and what he isn’t, and your job is to guide and encourage him. Always respond positively and always encourage him. This will give him belief in what he can achieve. You also need to be a realist in terms of his ambitions, while at the same time never stifling his dreams. This is a very difficult balancing act to do, particularly as nearly all teenagers are full of self-doubt, not to mention the mood swings. If you get this balancing act right however, you will launch your child into life with a very positive attitude, but if you get it wrong, it will make this transition from childhood to adulthood much more challenging for both of you.