1. We’re all in this together. Right from the start, teach your kids that your family is a mutual support system, meaning that everyone pitches in. Even a baby can learn to “help” you lift her by reaching out her arms, says Madelyn Swift, founder and director of Childright and author of Discipline for Life, Getting It Right With Children.
2. Respect is mutual. One of the most common complaints parents and kids have about each other is “You’re not listening.” Set a good example early on: When your child tries to tell you something, stop what you’re doing, focus your attention, and listen. Later you can require the same courtesy from her.
3. Consistency is king. One good way to raise a child with emotional strength? Be consistent and unwavering about rules and chores, says Harvard professor Dan Kindlon, author of Too Much of a Good Thing. Even if you pick just one chore to insist on, your child will be better off, Kindlon says. “Being firm and consistent teaches your child that you care enough about him to expect responsible behavior.”
4. Life’s not always fair. We’re so afraid of disappointing or upsetting our kids — too afraid, say some discipline pros. “If a child never experiences the pain of frustration — of having to share a toy or wait their turn in line — or if they’re never sad or disappointed, they won’t develop psychological skills that are crucial for their future happiness,” says Kindlon.