10 Keys to Successful Parenting
by Kathryn Kvols
It is important to discipline in a way that teaches responsibility by motivating our children internally, to build their
self-esteem and help them feel loved. If our children are disciplined in this way, they will not need to turn to gangs,
drugs, or sex to feel powerful or to belong.
The following ten keys use methods that have been proven to provide children with a sense of well-being and
(1) Use Genuine Encounter Moments (GEMS)
Your child's self-esteem is greatly influenced by the quality of time you spend with him not the amount of time that you
spend. With our busy lives, we are often thinking about the next thing that we have to do, instead of putting 100%
focused attention on what our child is saying to us. We often pretend to listen or ignore our child's attempts to
We often pretend to listen or ignore our child's attempts to communicate with us.
If we don't give our child GEMS throughout the day, he will often start to misbehave. Negative attention to a child is
better than being ignored. It is also important to recognize that feelings are neither right nor wrong. Feelings just are.
So when your child says to you, "Mommy, you never spend time with me", (even though you just played with her) she
is expressing what she feels. It is best at these times to validate her feelings by saying, "Yeah, I bet it feels like we
don't get enough time together."
(2) Use Action, Not Words
Statistics report we give our children over 2000 compliance requests a day! No wonder our children become "parent
deaf!" Instead of nagging or yelling, ask yourself, "What action can I take?" For example, if you have repeatedly
asked your child about unrolling his socks when he takes them off, then only wash socks that are unrolled. Actions
speak louder than words.
(3) Give Children Appropriate Ways to Feel Powerful
If you don't, they will find inappropriate ways to feel
Let them help you balance
your check book, cook part
or all of a meal, or
help you shop
their power. Some ways to help children feel powerful and valuable are to ask their advice, give them choices, let
them help you balance your check book, cook part or all of a meal, or help you shop. A two-year-old can wash plastic
dishes, wash vegetables or put napkins on a table. Often we do the job for them because we can do it with less
hassle, but the result is that they don't feel valuable.
(4) Give Choices
Ask yourself what would happen if I didn't interfere in this situation? For example, if your child forgets her lunch, don't
bring it to her, allowing her to find a solution, and learning the importance of being responsible for herself. If we
interfere when we don't need to, we rob children of the chance to learn from the consequences of their actions. By
allowing consequences to do the talking, we avoid disturbing our relationships by nagging or reminding too much.
(5) Use Natural Consequences
Often the consequences are to far in the future to practically use a natural consequence. Logical consequences are
effective when the consequence is logically related to the behavior. For example, if your child forgets to return his
video and you ground him for a week, that punishment will only create resentment within your child. However, if you
return the video for him and either deduct that amount of money owed, then your child can understand the logic of
(6) Withdraw From Conflict
If your child is testing you through a temper tantrum, or being angry or speaking disrespectfully to you, it is best if you
leave the room and tell the child that you will be in the next room if he wants to "try again". Do not leave the doer in
anger or defeat.
(7) Separate the Deed From the Doer
Never tell a child they are bad. That tears at his self-esteem. Help your child recognize that you love him, but it is his
behavior you are unwilling to tolerate. In order for a child to develop healthy self-esteem, he must know he is loved
unconditionally no matter what he does. Do not attempt to motivate your child by withdrawing your love from him.
When in doubt, ask yourself, did my discipline build my child's self-esteem?
(8) Be Kind and Firm at the Same Time
Suppose you have told your 5-year old child that if she isn't dressed by the time the timer goes off, you will pick her
up and take her to the car. She has been told she can either get dressed in the car or at school. If she is not dressed
by the time the timer goes off, make sure that you lovingly but firmly pick her up as soon as the timer goes off without
any more nagging. If in doubt, ask yourself, did I motivate through love or fear?
(9) Parent with the End in Mind
Most of us parent in ways to get the situation under control as soon as possible. We are looking for the expedient
solution. This often results in children who feel overpowered or not disciplined. But if we learn to parent in a way that
keeps in mind how we want our child to be as an adult, we will be more thoughtful in the way we parent. For example,
spanking teaches children to use acts of aggression to get what they want.
(10) Be Consistent, Follow Through
If you have an agreement with your child to not buy candy at the grocery store, do not give in to her pleas, tears,
demands, or pouting. Your child will learn to respect you more if you mean what you say and are consistent.
Kathryn Kvols, a national speaker, is the author of the book, "Redirecting Children's Behavior" and the president of
the International Network for Children and Families. Presented by Laurel Ann Browne, Certified Parent Instructor
RCB Home Video Course www.ChildParentRedirection.com