1. Begin with the end in mind. Think about the ideal outcome – a young adult with the traits you want for your adult child. Do you want your child to be kind and compassionate? Set up opportunities to develop compassion and treat people/animals with kindness.
2. Develop your own skills. Feeling inadequate? Concerned about passing on lessons from your childhood that are not what you want for your child? Get help – read, go to classes, enter therapy or a support group. Learn from your experiences – make the changes you want for your child.
3. Choose your battles wisely. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Decide on one area to address, like chores or homework. and focus on that until you see success. Then, tackle another issue.
4. Align the adults. Ensure all adults are on the same page. Hash out any disagreements and come up with rules and consequences everyone can live with. It is critical that the consequences are enforced, even when inconvenient for the adults.
5. Create opportunities for success. Catch them being good. Set small goals that your child can easily attain. Focus on one small step until it is achieved consistently, and then add something else. Start when they are young, and life is much easier when they get older.
6. Allow mistakes and failure without judgment. If you are a perfectionist, get help with that now. Chances are high that you will either pass that behavior on to your child, or they will feel judged or defeated if they let you down. Let them fail and make mistakes until they get it right – without too much pressure.
7. Teach what you want them to learn. Be clear about your expectations. Show your child how to do things. Model for them by doing it in your life. Verbal instructions are often insufficient and set kids up for failure. Don’t overwhelm them with too many things to do at once – one or two at the most for verbal instruction.
8. Reinforce what you want more of. Praise them when they do what you want – especially when they do it well or go above and beyond. Be specific about what they did that you like and tell them you appreciate it. People, especially kids, love to please us.
9. Raise the bar. Teaching responsibility requires accountability. Building confidence requires that children successfully achieve their responsibilities. When they don’t reach the mark, help them get there – praise their progress and encourage them to finish successfully.
10. Do the hard stuff. Follow through with what you say you will do – good, bad or indifferent. If they blow it, let them deal with the fallout, even if the consequences are harsh and long-lasting, such as failing a class means summer school instead of band camp.