How to create likable children, that is the question! There are mothers with likable kids who seem to instinctively follow certain principles of good parenting that other mothers just don’t seem to know.

These 'good moms' seem to recognize that kids are fundamentally neither good nor bad, and that it is up to the parent to help them become enjoyable people. Understanding and implementing certain principles can make things easier, and making the effort to do so is a good, solid investment in your child’s happiness, as well as in yours.

Following are the four principles:

Principle 1: You Are in Charge
  • Establish clear rules. This gives your kids a chance to do things right, and to know when they’ve gotten it wrong — no ifs, ands or buts!
  • Determine the consequences. Forewarn your kids about what will happen if they break the rules. Even better, let them help determine the consequences. (They are often harder on themselves than we are on them.)
  • Follow through and be consistent. Make it clear that you mean business – each and every time. If your kids take you seriously, they are less likely to try your patience.
Principle 2: Approach Them with Respect
  • Let them develop into who they are, not who you want them to be. You can be respectful of your kids’ preferences, feelings, and thoughts, even when they are different from yours. They may be kids, but they are still people.
  • Assume they are innocent until proven guilty. Expect the best of them until you are proven wrong — maybe they won’t let you down!
  • Think before you speak. Address your kids with the same consideration you expect from them.
Principle 3: Require, in Turn, that They Treat You Respectfully
  • Insist on respectful expression of thoughts and feelings. Emotions and ideas should never be squelched; however, temper tantrums should be.
  • Don’t make them the center of the universe. Teach your kids to think of others’ needs and feelings. To put things in perspective for your kids, try getting them involved in a volunteer activity.
  • Dare to insist upon good manners, even at the table. Your kids probably won’t like it, but you’ll like them better for it.
  • Teach appreciation. Don’t allow your kids to take your efforts for granted. Insist that they express gratitude for efforts made by others on their behalf.
Principle 4: Let Them Know You Love and Approve of Them
  • Whenever you can, catch them doing something right. Positive reinforcement tends to encourage more of your kids’ desired behavior.
  • Listen. When your kids are ready to talk, make time to hear them.
  • Spend time with them. There is no substitute for shared experiences. Enjoyable times together create a 'goodwill bank' that can get your kids and you through the rough times.
  • Pick your battles. If you have good kids who generally try to do the right thing, you can live with sometimes losing the battle (but winning the war).
  • Remember that you were once a kid. Remember how YOU used to be!

You are probably already following many of these principles. Even if you have missed a few, don’t feel bad — there are no perfect parents. Instead, pour your energies into implementing these ideas, one at a time. The pleasure of liking your kids will more than reward you for your efforts.