I’ve known, from the time that my daughter was born, that she was going to be a handful—call it Mother’s intuition. As a highly creative child, and sometimes too smart for her own good, it was important to give her the most important guiding principles by which to live a great life and use her gifts for good. I figure by the time she’s repeating some of these same phrases back to me, I’m doing something right:
1. You can do anything you put your mind to. Children are like sponges—they soak up whatever you tell them, good or bad. Depositing positive words into them when they’re young helps to set them up for long-term success. Since she was a toddler, I have told my 10-year-old daughter that the words “I can’t” are not allowed in her vocabulary. When trying to figure out how to pay for something she really wanted that I wasn’t willing to buy for her, she decided to start a business that has now allowed her the freedom to make money for some of the things she wants, while teaching her that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. 2. Accountability, not excuses. We live in a world where “accountability” is passed around like a hot potato—it’s always someone else’s fault. Teaching your child when they’re young to take accountability for their actions without making excuses gives them a solid foundation for success. It helps them learn to make a way out of no way, regardless of whatever odds may be against them. 3. I’m proud of you. Sometimes we’re so busy disciplining and teaching our children, we forget to give them credit when credit is due. It’s important that you acknowledge the things your child is doing well. Those words of encouragement go a long way in pushing them to do their best. 4. I love you. If you’re like me and grew up in a household where those words were hardly ever spoken, this may be hard for you. However, I decided that once I became a parent, I would never go a day without my child hearing those three little, but critical words. Although they say actions speak louder than words, sometimes words need to speak for themselves. 5. If you treat money right, it will treat you right. Unfortunately, the topic of money is not one that is often talked about in many families. I’ve made money mistakes, that had I known what I know now, I would be in a different place. I have vowed to teach my daughter about money and how to use it. When she makes money from her business, we have four envelopes the money goes into: Give, Save, Spend and Invest. With all of the resources out there, there’s no time like now to teach your child good money habits while they’re still young. 6. Say “Thank You.” Gratitude is one of the most important keys to happiness. It teaches children not to take things for-granted. Anytime my child receives a gift, the next day, I have her sit down and make Thank You cards for everyone who gave her a present—no e-mails. Even when she receives compliments, she has learned to automatically say “Thank You.” I want to teach her that gratitude multiplies the blessings of the giver. 7. Ask for help. Too often, as adults, we find ourselves trying to juggle every single thing on our plate without taking the time to ask for the help we so desperately need. This causes us to have short-tempers, stress-related illnesses and resentment that builds up and hinders our progress. It’s important for children to learn early that, although there are some things they can and should do on their own, they should also know it’s okay to ask for help. 8. Be faithful in the little things, then you’ll show that you can be trusted with more. My daughter has begged me for a dog since she was four. Given that she leaves a trail of her things around the house (and every other house she visits) and doesn’t like to clean up, I have told her that she’s not ready for a dog because Mommy certainly won’t be the one to clean up the poop! It’s important for children to learn that they need to first be responsible with the little things that they’ve been entrusted with so that they can then be trusted with more. The sooner they learn that’s how the real world works, the better. 9. God makes anything possible. Although it’s important to separate reality from delusion, it’s even more important for kids to know that when they’re committed to something and have done everything in their power to make it happen, then it’s time to step back let the Creator do what He does best. Because through Him, all things are possible.
As with anything you tell your children, you need to make sure that they’re seeing you live out these principles in order for them to take them to heart and to know that indeed, you’re practicing what you preach.
What are some of the most important principles you’ve taught your children to set them up for success?