I have in recent years spent a lot of time with a lot of kids. Not a classroom size or anything but more along the lines of large family. For me parenting is about setting kids up to succeed. It is my job to do the setting up and give them the tools they need in order to meet the expectations that have been laid out.

I, as the parent or caregiver, provide structure and a clear set of simple global rules about how they are to behave as well as treat each other and the things around them. Kids are remarkable in their ability to adapt and understand different sets of rules in different places. Children who go back and forth between parents have proven, in case there was any question, just how efficient they are. So long as love is at the forefront of what you are doing with them.

It is so important that children feel how much you care about them. I don’t think it is possible to put into words just how effective having love very near the surface of even the hardest of lessons can make them that much easier.

We as parents prepare our children for life through small stages of letting go. At least that is how I have seen my journey. From no longer helping to put on shoes, or mitts or underware. Fewer and fewer reminders about are you wearing underware, a coat, socks etc. and letting go of the control I once had over those decisions. But still remaining in the background just in case, tucking that pair of mitts into a backpack, a hug and an ear for those owy moments that are still bound to happen.

My children can always come to me and tell me their problems but I am not as welcoming to stories about what so and so did to blah blah and then they ‘insert accusing statement here’. What I want to know is how they are feeling and what they did to help the situation and why or if they need my help. I encourage them to come ask, point blank, for my help and not be afraid to do that but also recognize that they need to try to solve their own problems with words and gentleness first.

I don’t tolerate dishonesty at all. Kids who lie or make up stories rub me the wrong way. But instead of accusing them of lying I change the scenario to instead telling a story of my own. If ‘so and so’ were to have done ‘such and such’ how would that have made you feel? By not blaming the lying child I am giving them the opportunity to come to the truth within themselves which is the only place it matters. I don’t need to hear it I just need to see them thinking about it and to be quite honest when you don’t force a child to admit they’ve done wrong you can usually watch their little wheels turning.