Ladies & Gentlemen

Every new birth gives hope for a kinder, gentler world.

A child is not born angry, hostile, abusive or violent; nor is he born loving, caring, kind or considerate. Children gradually learn to become the way they are. As they interact with their environment and significant people it in, they are pushed, pulled, molded and shaped by life experiences. This is wonderful news because it allows us many opportunities to be a positive influence on children. We have the knowledge, strategies and motivation to help children fulfill their potential, become a positive force in society, and a joy to be with. Here are 10 things you can do to help children become kind, considerate and thoughtful human beings.

Lower the Volume!

Speak to each other in a quiet, calm tone of voice. Avoid calling to your child from another room. Find her, make eye contact, and speak softly. Regulate the background noise from television, radio and other audio/visual equipment; allow only one A/V or e-device on in each room.

Use the Magic Words.

Set an example by asking, not commanding, your child to do things. Don’t forget “Please,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me” and other nice things that you learned from Grandma. They still work!

Have Hands-on Contact.

We all need hugs, the more the better. Younger children enjoy cuddling and being held on your lap. Older kids may respond better to a high-five or secret handshake. Teenagers may tolerate a pat on the back or a brief bear hug. Don’t force affection if a child is resistant.

Speak with Respect.

Teach children to speak to people by name. Children should address adults in a respectful manner, using Mr., Mrs., Ms. or other appropriate title.

Offer Acceptance and Belonging.

Home should be a safe and loving place, where we find comfort and support. Make your child feel needed and wanted by acknowledging her inner qualities such as honesty, dependability or trustworthiness. Each child should enjoy a unique and significant place within the family unit.

Expect the Best.

Assume that your child will succeed and do well; look at misdeeds or failures as the exception. Focus on typical behaviors – i.e., good grades in school, at home on time, doing chores – rather than dwelling on things that did not go well or pointing out how disappointed you are in something.

Show Respect.

Treat your children with fairness and honesty. Ask their opinion and follow their advice when possible. Avoid dictating to them; give them an opportunity to make choices whenever possible. Never lie to a child, not matter how diffi cult the truth may seem. Do not violate children’s confi dence by teasing or belittling them. Only in the most extreme situations should you intrude on their privacy by going through their personal belongings or reading their letters, journals or emails.

Assume a Reasonable Explanation.

When your child gets into trouble, use it as an opportunity to talk about problem-solving skills. Give him a chance to explain the situation. Discuss the behavior and the reasoning that led up to it. Without accusation, take him step by step through the incident and explore his emotions, problemsolving skills, alternative behaviors, and the consequences. The main focus should be his actions, not the incident.

Be Patient.

It is an eternal truth that children act their age. They are learning how to live life. It is during these formative years we are most instrumental in redirecting their behavior into adaptive and positive channels. Children make many mistakes, many times. It is important we share our moral and social values with them and lovingly tolerate their deviations without condemnation. Criticize the deed, not the doer.

Be as You Want Them to Be.

Children learn by example. They will respond to stress, frustration and anger in one of two ways: externalizing or internalizing. Externalizing behaviors are abusive tactics such as yelling, crying, teasing, name-calling, temper tantrums and aggression. Internalizing behaviors include withdrawal, isolation, pouting and being silent.

Teach your child how to react positively when life is unfair, things don’t go his way, or he is disappointed. A child is often a mirror of the adults around him.