The best way to predict the future is to create it. It is important to teach your children to be self-reliant so they can cope with future challenges of adulthood, while being respectful and kind to others. There is no better time to inculcate such values than when they are young.

How parents convey their expectations of their children play a major role in their children’s development. Parental expectations are the beliefs that parents hold about their children’s future achievements. These expectations, when expressed effectively, can have a positive impact on children – influencing their choices and nudging them in the right direction.

But what does this mean in practical terms? For many parents, juggling career and family leave you with little time for anything else. The good news is that there are simple everyday activities you can engage in to impart such values and share your expectations in a positive manner!

Practical ways to teach self-reliance

Education can be both formal and informal. As a parent, you can encourage independence by getting your child to carry out daily tasks at home.

Start by encouraging your child to clean up after himself/herself. For example, washing their own cups after use. This teaches your child to be responsible for his/her own actions in the long run. You might want to complete these tasks for your child to save time but do not just think of the here-and-now; think of the long-term effects too. By taking over tasks he/she is capable of doing, you could be sending the message that you have no confidence in your child's abilities or that someone else would clean up after him.

Get your child to help with simple household chores like wiping the table after dinner and doing the dishes. This way, he/she learns the value of doing things on his/her own and are more appreciative of what they have. By doing chores for the entire family, it encourages the child to look beyond himself/herself and to be aware of how he/she can contribute to the family. As a side note, it is important to acknowledge your child’s contribution by showing appreciation after he/she has completed the chore.

Encourage your child to pack his/her own bag for school. It might not sound like much but this is a great step in instilling independence. Knowing what goes into the bag and being prepared for school the next day is an important lesson in independence.

Practical ways to cultivate respect

As a parent, you want your child to not only be independent, but also respectful and appreciative of those around them. Like independence, these values can be taught at home.

Always remind your child to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to people who helped them. This is not only basic courtesy, but also reminds them of the importance of showing their appreciation.

Encourage your child to give up his/her seat on public transport to those who need it more. When children learn to consider others’ needs before their own from a young age, they foster stronger empathy later in life and treat others with respect and understanding. This simple lesson also encourages children to look out for those around them who may be less fortunate than themselves.

“Walk the talk” by setting a good example for your child. Children don't just learn from words; they learn by observation too. Set a good example by being respectful too.

Your child is like a seed growing into a tree. Whether the tree eventually bears good or bad fruits depends on the gardeners’ commitment to nurture them and create the best environment for growth and development to occur. As parents, you provide guidance at every stage of your child's life. Inculcating important values should start from young to raise independent and respectful adults.