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Principles for Inspiring Good Attitudes

There are a few basic tenets and solid life principles that have lasted through the ages. In some shape or form, these principles appear in all cultures, religions, and civilizations. And the main thing they all have in common is not just preventing bad attitudes from happening and that brat factor from taking hold, but they cultivate a society whose children are not spoiled, selfish, defiant, and insensitive but rather selfless, compassionate, respectful, and empathic. In the end, they are the kinds of kids that we all hope and dream for.

Different religions, cultures, and spiritual disciplines have their own unique language in expressing these life principles. But here is my version of the basic list. It's what we can do as parents and also convey into all the relationships and activities in our lives.

The Ultimate Principles for Inspiring Human Attitudes

  1. Be loving. It's the greatest gift and greatest blessing. It's the basis of all relationships and morality. The more love and kindness you give, the more you receive. Remember that the best gift you can give your child is of yourself.
  2. Be consistent. Regularity, structure, and clear boundaries create trust. It's what your child needs to feel safe and secure, so provide it.
  3. Be a good example. Provide the kind of moral model you want your children to copy. Your child needs someone to look up to.
  4. Be authentic. Never fake a feeling or act out a phony behavior. Your children need you to be sincere, genuine, and your real self at all times.
  5. Be present. Be here now. Don't let work and other distractions interfere with remaining in the moment in direct contact and communication with your child and other loved ones.
  6. Be positive. Things often turn out on the basis of your way of looking at it. If you're optimistic and hopeful about the future, it may turn out to be self-fulfilling.
  7. Be patient. Slow down and get in sync with your kids. Life goes by all too quickly, so why speed things up? And don't forget, change takes time.
  8. Be persistent. Life is a long-distance run. Perseverance pays off, so never give up, especially when it comes to helping your kids.
  9. Be selfless. Get out of your shoes, put your energy into others, and take your kid along with you on the journey.
  10. Be active. Don't just sit there. When you have a good idea or realize something is wrong, be proactive. Your actions will show your child that the only way to accomplish deeds large or small is by plunging full speed ahead.
  11. Be simple. Your child doesn't need a whole lot to be happy; in fact, less really is better. It will help him develop appreciation and gratitude for the essential things in life.
  12. Be believing. Every human being needs something to live by: a set of guiding principles, a sense of right and wrong. You need to be clear, conscious, and consistent with it, so your child knows where you stand and has the opportunity to follow.
  13. Be open. Flexibility is strength. Learning new things, having new ideas, and allowing exposure to other points of view and ways of being are lessons you need to experience and pass on to your kids.
  14. Be empathic. Above all else, the most important virtue humans can aspire to is the ability to understand and get inside another person's feelings. Empathy is the effective antidote to attitudes that are selfish, insensitive, and cruel. And the best way our children can learn it is by experiencing our empathy for them.
This isn't such an easy world for parents and children alike. We're living in uncertain and dangerous times. The attitudes we see in our children to some extent reflect not only our family dynamics, but also the influence of the world at large. The problem is acute, and the stakes are high. There are some things way out of our control, but the one thing we can do is be parents.

Everything we do now is going to have an impact on our children and their world to come. So stop the blaming, the excusing, the rescuing and compromising, and start putting all your energy into what really matters: helping your children make the journey from bad attitudes to solid character. Ultimately, when all is said and done, it's not how many goals they score, what academic degree they achieve, or how much money they'll make that matters. It's the kind of life they live and the world in which they live it.


From Don't Give Me That Attitude by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2004 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Buy the book at www.amazon.com.

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