Every parent hopes that their children will grow up to be law-abiding citizens.
But as all parents know, ensuring that your children always make the right choices can be challenging. They will make mistakes, sometimes leading to brushes with the law.
If you want to help your children avoid legal trouble, you must be proactive in teaching them about the law and instilling respect for it.
Here are some tips to help you raise law-abiding children.
1. Teach them about the law and why it exists.
Help your children understand that the law is in place to protect people and keep society safe. Explain that breaking the law can have serious consequences, not only for the person who violates it but also for innocent bystanders. Because of this, everyone must follow the law.
Your children should also understand that there are different types of laws, such as criminal and traffic laws.
Explain the difference between these kinds of rules and why following them is crucial. Use real-life examples to illustrate your points, and ensure that your words are age-appropriate.
For example, you might say to your five-year-old, “The law is there to stop people from being mean to each other. If somebody breaks the law, they might go to jail, which is a place where people who have broken the law have to stay.”
2. Set a good example.
You are your child’s first and most important role model as a parent. Show them that you respect the law by always obeying it yourself.
If you speed, run red lights, or commit other traffic violations, your child will think it’s okay for them to do the same. You don’t want your child to develop a casual attitude towards the law, so be sure to set a good example.
To do this, you should also avoid breaking the law in other ways, such as using drugs or committing petty theft.
If you are ever arrested or convicted of a crime, explain to your child what happened in a calm and age-appropriate manner. Don’t try to hide your mistakes from them-this will only make them think that breaking the law is no big deal.
3. Help them when they make mistakes.
Even if you’ve done everything right, your child will still make mistakes. It’s essential to be there for them when this happens and to help them learn from their mistakes. If your child gets in trouble with the law, don’t panic.
For example, if your teenage child is caught drinking and driving, you might help them by paying the fine, hiring an expert DUI lawyer, and enrolling them in a defensive driving course.
You can also use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about the importance of obeying the law.
But remember, you shouldn’t enable your child’s bad behavior. If they continue to break the law, despite your best efforts, you might need to consider tougher consequences, such as grounding them or taking away their privileges.
Some parents even choose to send their children to military school or juvenile detention, but this should only be done as a last resort.
4. Encourage them to express their feelings.
If your child is angry or frustrated, they might lash out and break the law. To help prevent this from happening, encourage them to express their feelings in a positive and healthy way.
For example, you might suggest that they take up a sport or artistic activity as an outlet for their emotions. You can also teach them how to meditate or do deep breathing exercises to calm themselves down.
If your child struggles to cope with their emotions, you might also want to seek professional help. A therapist can teach them how to deal with their feelings constructively.
Let them know it’s okay to seek help-this will show them that you care about their well-being.
5. Help them develop a sense of right and wrong.
Children should be taught the difference between right and wrong from a young age. This will help them make good decisions when faced with tough life choices.
One way to do this is to read stories with your child that teach moral lessons. You can also talk to them about real-life situations in which people have made bad choices.
For example, you might say, “It’s wrong to steal because it hurts other people. When somebody steals, they take something that doesn’t belong to them. And that can make the person they stole from feeling sad, angry, or scared.”
You can also encourage your child to think about the consequences of their actions. For example, you might say, “If you hit somebody, they might get hurt. And if you break the law, you could go to jail.”
Parenting is not easy, but it’s essential to do what you can to raise law-abiding children. By setting a good example, helping them when they make mistakes, and teaching them right from wrong, you can give your child the best chance of growing up to be a responsible and productive member of society. Remember that you are your child’s best hope for a bright future.