Live up to your own professed values. Children practice what you practice, not what you preach.
Especially, live up to your professed values when it’s difficult. Nothing hurts the whole idea of integrity like someone who, in a tight spot, does exactly what he’s urged everyone else never to do.
Don’t think that “practice what you preach when it’s difficult” applies only to crisis situations. It can manifest over such minor issues as advocating patience and then using your car horn indiscriminately.
Don’t assume that your family is too smart or too blessed to ever get into a real crisis situation. Being caught off guard is a major trigger for doing the wrong thing.
While staying aware of possible concerns, make a point of living as though things are good and always getting better.
Make “counting our blessings” and “what I’m thankful for” focal points of everyday conversation.
Remember that extra hours are better spent with your children than working overtime to “provide” for them.
Be there for children in more than physical presence. Listen to them with your ears, your eyes, and your brain.
Make it clear to children that they are accepted and loved for themselves, not for what they get “right.”
Emphasize the learning experience, not the final grade.
Encourage children to try difficult things and learn by trial and error.
Make a habit, yourself, of regularly trying new things—and of learning by trial and error.
Give children a voice in family decisions. The final verdict may rest with you, but make a point of genuinely considering the children’s ideas and reasons.
Also make a point of learning from children. “Inexperienced” (and less set) minds often have the best ideas.
Instead of “solving” children’s problems for them, get them talking toward solutions they can implement themselves.
Don’t give advances on allowance. And don’t use your own credit cards for “emergencies” either, unless the only possible alternative is loss of home, adequate food, or needed medical care.
Make regular deposits into your savings account.
Open savings accounts for your kids as early as possible. Help them decide what percentage of their allowance will go there.
Give a set percentage of income and allowance to your religious congregation and/or a favorite charity. Do this even (especially!) when funds for other things are tight.
Spend regular time as a family helping out those needier than yourselves.
Give your kids wholesome media—especially good old-fashioned books—as gifts.
Read together as a family.
If you watch television or movies as a family, schedule a group discussion afterwards to review messages received and lessons learned.
Encourage discussions not only of “what I want to be when I grow up,” but of how to reach those goals.
Remember you aren’t fully “grown up” yet. Set an example of being someone who’s always learning, growing, and working toward new goals!