Things children have taught meWhile I'm by no means any kind of expert, I've worked in some type of child care field for about 18 of my 38 years, in addition to my own kids. While theories vary, I've managed to distill a few things I think are universal- parenting or caregiver, favourite aunt or uncle, styles aside.
1) How you want the children in your life to speak, patterns are more caught than taught.
This covers SO many things. If you don't want your child to swear, set that example. Then , if your child brings home a swear word, you won't be a hypocrite when you tell him "We don't speak like that in our house".
If you want children to say please and thank you, make sure you are extending the same courtesy to them.
If you want children to have impressive vocabularies, use big words with them. They'll ask if they don't understand a word.
Perhaps most importantly, remember the song from South Pacific. Bigotry is carefully taught.
2) When a little child falls down, don't make a fuss. Usually they are just fine and will only fuss if they can tell their caregiver thinks it's something to get upset about. If they DO need first aid, it will go much smoother if they haven't been unduly upset.
3) Children of all ages need to be with children of all ages. This is a difficult one with the set up in most of our schools, but multi grade classrooms and high school/elementary partnerships are increasing in popularity. Little children need big children to look up to, and older kids may gain even more- the pride from being looked up to, cementing their own knowledge and skills by teaching them, learning how to nurture before they find them selves parents.
4) Good Job has its place, but is overused. Try saying Thank You to a child who does as you ask instead.
5) Our older kids are capable of much more than we expect of them, but our society has for decades been extending childhood. Expect the older children in your life to be mature and they almost always will be.