Six Best-Practices for raising happy, responsible children

Whatever your relationship is with the children in your life- parent, teacher, aunt, uncle, neighbor, mentor- take note of these six practices that make kids feel good about themselves, learn responsibility, and empower themselves to find genuine happiness:

  1. Unconditional Love. Love children without strings attached. Confident kids know that significant adults accept them, while uncertain and fearful children feel they were never quite right in adult eyes.
  2. Offer compliments, not criticism. Be quick in looking for the best in a child and be slow in pinpointing his/ her flaws. However, remember that a blossoming child’s self-worth can be harmed by never-ending compliments and bolstered by infrequent, but constructive criticism.
  3. Listen and talk to your child often. The average American parent spends 18 minutes a day communicating with their children and most of that is nagging, scolding, grounding, reprimanding, moralizing, lecturing and preaching. Children need to know their parents are interested in what they’re thinking, what interests them, and what is troubling them.
  4. Treat them as special and unique individuals. All children carry their own developmental internal clock, one different from all others. Self-assured kids maintain importance in their parents’ minds simply because they exist. Apprehensive children sense that parental admiration is gained solely through achievement credentials. Kids gain confidence and courage knowing that mom and dad are readily available is a problem should arise. Unsure children keep everything bottled up inside.
  5. Discipline fairly and consistently. Children need unwavering guidelines, so their lives are predictable, not erratic. Imagine the chaos if you were forced to drive on highways absent of median lines, speed limits, traffic lights and stop signs. Children navigate through life confidently when given a predictable code of conduct, but apprehensively under chaotic or permissive rules.
  6. Discipline by laying down consequences that are logically connected to the misbehavior. If your teen disobeys curfew time on a weekend night, taking away TV privileges is not the answer. Instead, tell him the worry his disrespect for curfew hours caused you, then ground him for the entire next weekend. The weekend after, give him another chance with the understanding that multiple weekend groundings will occur if further violations happen. The true meaning of discipline is teaching responsibility and that life has consequences for making bad choices.

Robert Morton authors the Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster spy thriller series and as a retired school psychologist, he writes about parenting and family issues.

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