Think about someone who made you believe in yourself -- someone who saw more in you than you believed was possible.
They gave. They gave generously. They gave selflessly. And they didn't expect anything in return. Instead, they helped you because it made them happy to watch you succeed.
That's what great parents do. They want their kids to be successful -- and happy.
That's why great parents ...
1. Provide consistent praise.
Everyone does something well. That's why everyone deserves praise and appreciation.
It's easy to recognize people who do great things -- they're doing great things. (Of course it's very possible that consistent praise is one of the reasons they've become great.) It's much harder to find reasons to praise a child who simply meets your expectations.
But that's why it's so important to try. A few words of recognition -- especially when that recognition is given publicly-- could be just the nudge your child needs.
Try hard to see the good in kids -- and not just yours -- before they see it in themselves. You might just provide the spark that helps them reach their true potential.
2. Display extraordinary patience.
Showing patience is a great way to let people know we truly care about them. Showing patience and expressing genuine confidence is an extraordinary way to let our children know we truly believe in them.
Showing patience is a genuine gift -- because, ultimately, showing patience shows how much you care.
3. Are quick to forgive.
When a child makes a mistake -- especially a major mistake -- it's easy to start to view him or her through the perspective of that mistake. (I've definitely done that.)
But one mistake, or one weakness, is just one part of the whole person.
Want to be a great parent? Step back, set aside the mistake, and think about the whole child. Viewing any person through the lens of just one incident may forever impact how you treat that person.
To forgive may be divine, but to forget can be even more divine.
4. Pay attention... but also provide privacy.
Everyone shares. Everyone "likes" and tweets. Lives have increasingly become open books, and we've started to feel we have a right to know more about others than we ever did.
Even when your kids are concerned, sometimes you don't have the right to know. And often you don't need to know. That's why sometimes the best gift you can give is the gift of privacy, not asking, not prying, and yet always being available if and when your child does want or need to share.
Respect your children's privacy, and help them guard their privacy. It's not necessary to know in order to care.
5. Are happy to ask for help.
When you ask for help -- especially from your kids -- a few things happen. You implicitly show you respect the person giving the help. You show you respect that person's experience, skill, and insight. And you show you trust that other person, since, by asking for help, you've made yourself vulnerable.
Ask your kids for help. They'll automatically feel greater self-respect, self-esteem, and self-worth, because they've received one of the greatest gifts of all: Knowing they made a difference in another person's life.
6. Give the right opportunities.
In the work world, every job has the potential to lead to greater things. Every person has the potential, both professionally and personally, to accomplish greater things.
That's also true for your kids. Take the time to help them develop the skills they may someday want to use. Take the time to help them find and seize opportunities.
Help your kids work toward their dreams -- and when you can, help them open doors that might otherwise have remained closed.
Or better yet, show them how to open those doors themselves.
7. Provide freedom -- and responsibility.
You're a parent. You set rules and guidelines. You set expectations. You should -- that's your job.
Still, feeling personal satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. Kids -- and adults -- care the most when it's "theirs." They care the most when they feel they have the responsibility and authority not just do what they're told, but to do what they feel is right.
Allow your kids to turn "have to" into "want to," because that transforms a task into something much more meaningful: An outward expression of their skills, talents, and experiences.
After all, that's the kind of job you want your kids to someday have -- so shouldn't you start setting that stage now?
8. Give a little tough love.
I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. We all want to be better than we are. Yet we all fall into habits, fall into patterns, develop blind spots, and so we all need constructive feedback. We all need advice, guidance, and sometimes a swift kick in the pants.
It's relatively easy to provide feedback when our kids make mistakes. It's relatively easy to make one-off comments when they've used poor judgment.
It's a lot tougher to say, "I know you're capable of a lot more."
Think about a time when someone told you what you least wanted to hear -- and yet most needed to hear. You've never forgotten what they said. It changed your life.
Go change your child's life.
9. Provide respect -- and with it, dignity.
Sometimes your kids mess up. Sometimes they mess up big time.
No matter what they've done, though, they still deserve to be treated with respect. Sarcasm, eye rolling, and biting comments all chip away at a child's self-respect.
Allow them to maintain a sense of dignity in the worst of circumstances. After all, you may have to discipline your kids, but you never, ever have to demean or humiliate them.
10. Give a sense of purpose.
Fulfillment is often found in becoming a part of something bigger. We all love to feel that special sense of teamwork and togetherness that turns a task into a quest, that turns a group of individuals into a family.
Give your kids a sense of purpose. Help them care by helping them to understand why they should care.
We all search for a sense of meaning. Help your kids find that meaning and they'll go to bed at night feeling a greater sense of fulfillment -- and self-esteem.
That's one of the best gifts any parent can give.