As parents, we want many things for our kids: we want them to be happy, we want them to be healthy, and we want them to be well-adjusted. But where do we start to ensure this is possible?

Well, it starts with us, as parents. We are their foundations and children need us to be exactly that. They don’t even realize it, but they not only need us to provide stability and structure, but they also crave just that. Even when they fight us, and break the rules we put into place, they need us to hold our ground and keep enforcing the rules.

Rules are necessary for making sure that our children thrive and flourish. Here are 7 habits and boundaries that are a must if you want to raise well-adjusted children.

1. Rules for how to treat one another.

It’s important to be clear with your children, and the rest of your family, about how we should and shouldn’t treat others. Emphasizing respect, compassion and empathy is a must. And it’s important to not just make these rules verbally clear but to model them yourself.

2. Consistent routines for bedtime, and eating.

Yes, your kids will fight you sometimes on this, but keep with it. Children need structure and consistency. It allows them to understand their surroundings and to know what to expect. This puts them under less stress and allows for your child to develop their sense of the world while staying safe and stable.

3. Empathy.

Empathy is a must! Be sure to explain feelings to your children from an early age. “Daddy is upset because he had a difficult day at work. He feels stress right now. ” or “Johnny is feeling pain right now and is hurt because he bumped his knee.” By doing this, you are teaching them about the importance of the feelings of others.

4. Playtime with parents.

If you want your little ones to thrive, they need playtime with you. Playtime is what teaches children important life lessons and social skills. No matter what your schedule looks like, you must make time for play and quality time with them.

5. Outdoor time.

Author of Enlightened Parenting, Meryl Davids Landau, says it best, by saying, “Movement through active free play, especially outside, improves everything from creativity to academic success to emotional stability. Kids who don’t get to do this can have so many issues, from problems with emotional regulation—for example, they cry at the drop of a hat—to trouble holding a pencil, to touching other kids using too much force.”

6. Chores.

Chores teach children how to be more independent and provide them with skills they can use later in life. Being involved in chores also provides relationship skills like cooperation and working on a team. And, as a bonus, doing chores allows kids to develop higher self-esteem because it makes them feel more competent and responsible.

7. Screen time limits.

While it may be tempting to give your child a tablet or phone, so you can get something done, by doing so, you are robbing your child of their well-being. Not only do tablets, phones, televisions, and gaming consoles set your child up for addiction, they provide instant gratification and also mess with their dopamine pathways, which in turn, destroys their happiness. If you insist on giving them some screen time, limit it!

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