1. Show your kids how much you love them. You can make a lot of mistakes, but if they know they are loved, kids will do okay. Be available to them emotionally, physically and spiritually.
2. Talk about your love for Jesus Christ and His teachings. Let your family see that you have a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father. Express gratitude in prayers and through conversations. Point out the beauty of nature, or the wonder of the stars. Lace conversations with examples from the scriptures. “You may be small, but you know what’s right, just like David knew how to defeat Goliath.”
3. Make house rules and teach them to the family. Set realistic boundaries. As they get older, include kids in decisions that impact the family, such as rewards and consequences.
4. Establish routines kids can count on–bedtime, meal time, scripture study, reading time, prayer, Family Night.
5. Talk with your kids-not at them or down to them. Even before they can talk, establish a relationship with direct eye-contact, response and listening. This will be the foundation of good communication. Be willing to listen whenever kids are willing to talk. (This can get annoying sometimes, but the pay-off comes when they’re teens.)
6. Allow time for independent play–preferably outside—with adult supervision but not interference. Play is the work of children—they learn physical fitness, socialization, problem solving and creativity.
7. Teach kids that they must “do their share” of household chores because they are members of the family. Let them do small tasks when they are tiny and increase responsibility by age but don’t expect more than they are able to do. As they get older, expand this expectation to include service to church and community.
8. Discipline—not with anger, but with directness and consequences. Remember that patience does not mean passive. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t make idle threats. Be firm, but fair. It is not unkind to tell a child no, or to stop them from behavior that is unacceptable. They will not learn to behave correctly if they don’t know it’s wrong.
9. Don’t label your children or yourself. Little children believe what you say is true because they don’t have any other frame of reference. Your image of them—and of yourself—will become their viewpoint.
10. Don’t allow fighting or unkindness in your home. If siblings fight, stop it right away. They may need a few minutes to overcome angry feelings, but insist that they work out a solution. Keep a close eye on the situation, but don’t interfere (if possible). The best way to limit fighting between youngsters is to frequently encourage loving interactions and pour on praise when they are getting along well.
11. Ask family members every day (without pressure) one thing they learned that day. This is excellent for dinner conversation. If you start this young, it will become a welcome habit.
12. Limit the use of electronic media. Set up time constraints and adhere to them. Nothing will interfere more with the intimacy of the home than to have everyone attached to an electronic device.
13. Help children to be still. Insist on periodic alone time when they can read, play quietly, rest or work on a project (without electronic stimulation, if possible). They must learn to be quiet to sense the workings of the Holy Spirit and to have self control in social settings. Don’t allow them to run wild except outside.
14. Teach children manners and to respect people and things.
15. Pray continually to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your home, and listen to the answers to those prayers. Pray specifically for the needs of each child, yourself and your relationships.