1. Promote healthy relationships. A child’s relationship with their parents is a blueprint for every other relationship they will ever have. Model the behaviors and problem resolutions strategies you want your children to use.
2. Focus on discipline strategies that work across ages. Emphasize self-control, self-regulation, self-discipline and self-assessment. If parents establish a cooperative environment, children will want to work with them. Instead of focusing on control, parents can help kids make good independent decisions.
3. Raise “thinking children.” Nagging, reminding, lecturing, bribing, counting and “time-outing” for dealing with pesky behaviors are not effective.
4. If they walk they can work. All humans, including young children, strive to be independent and navigate their own path, and parents often stand in their way. Children mimic what they are shown, so teach and encourage them to do for themselves.
5. Show children that we have faith in their abilities. Don’t talk them out of their drive to learn and grow as humans. A child’s self-esteem is based on his ability to contribute in two main areas: 1) taking care of himself and 2) helping in the community. Helping our children too much limits their abilities and cripples their self-confidence.
6. Provide children the space to grow. From ages 0-9 years children are concentrating on self-skills and then home skills. If they are not given the proper guidance, they become embarrassed and scared when we decide one day that they should “know how” to do things. From 9-15 years the focus shifts to social skills.
7. Know that they can get up and communicate that to them! Confident children can handle and rebound from frustration. Be present to support, but not to control. Apologize if you haven’t built a relationship that says you believe in your kids.
8. Feed our children’s souls with the right words. Explicitly state and name the character traits you value and want your children to develop when you see these traits in action. For example, when you see your child showing compassion to a friend or flexibility to a sibling’s needs, name those traits.
9. Teach your children to self-assess. Encourage rather than praise (which is actually a judgment.) Let your children define their own success. Ask “what do you think…” and don’t talk too much (think DUCT tape.)
10. Parent for today AND tomorrow by setting your children up for success for when they leave our homes.