• Love your children, unconditionally. They do not have to do anything to earn your love. They are your children; that alone is the reason they deserve your love.
  • Read to your children from infancy until they tell you they want to read it themselves. Then, listen to them read and don’t make a big issue of mistakes they may make.
  • Invest in your children’s education; be involved and go to parent teacher conferences whether your children are great students, average students or having difficulty. Your going to meet teachers tells your children that you care about their success and tells the school that you want to know what is happening.
  • Be consistent; mean what you say and say what you mean. Children who get mixed messages learn to question the validity of everything you do and say. This, in turn, encourages them to challenge your statements, as they need to know if you really mean it, this time.
  • Instill responsibility; start your children on chores and picking up after themselves early. Two and three year-olds should help you put their toys away, make the bed, fold/put away clothes, etc. By four, they should be picking out the clothes they are going to wear (of course you may need to veto some things due to weather, etc.). Once they start school, children should help make the lunch they will take to school. Transition responsibility to the child as she masters each task.
  • Praise your children for their attempts. Don’t be too focused on perfection. Children learn by making mistakes (as do most adults). Praise the effort they put into the task and they are more likely to try harder the next time. Accept only perfection and they will resent you in the long run. They may well be “perfect” at what the task was, but at what cost?
  • Encourage imagination. Give your children toys and games that require imagination and thought over repetitive thumb pressing. The best games for children require no batteries
  • Support their interests and make them your own. If your child wants to try a sport, dance, acting, whatever, be supportive and let them try. Don’t go overboard at the onset, as many of the interests will fade, but don’t discourage unless the activity is potentially dangerous. Then, look to find something similar, but less dangerous to give your child “a taste” of what she wants.
  • Similarly, don’t make your child do things they hate, simply because you love the activity. Not all of your young are going to be the next sports star, famous musician, actor, etc. To push them to some activity because you always wanted to do that is wrong. Certainly, introduce activities that encourage the activity, but if the response is one of disgust or fighting, back off. The exception, of course, being education.
  • Listen to your children. Don’t dismiss their ideas or beliefs, especially if you don’t fully understand them.  Encourage them to explore these ideas and find out what could come of them. It was abstract thought that became unique inventions, now considered commonplace.

Children need you to trust them to act responsibly. That requires you to give them the skills, morals, beliefs and ethics that allow responsible action.