The secret to raising happy, well-behaved, and well-adjusted children is actually quite simple—love. It’s knowing how to apply that love that isn’t always so straightforward or easy. Here are ten tips that can help.

Lead your children to Jesus. There will be times when the natural love God has given you for your children won’t be enough to satisfy your child’s needs. Your children need their own connection with the source of all love, God Himself, and they make that connection by receiving Jesus.

Explain to your children that when they invite Jesus to come into their hearts, He will become their best Friend, forgive them when they make mistakes or misbehave, and help them to be happy and live close to Him. Then lead them in a prayer like this one: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me for sometimes being bad. Please come into my heart and be my best Friend both now and forever in heaven. Amen.”

Introduce your children to God’s Word in the Bible. What could help your children more than teaching them to find faith, inspiration, guidance, and answers to their questions and problems in God’s Word? “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.”1 Daily time connecting with God through His Word is the key to spiritual progress at any age.

If your children are quite young, you can read to them from a children’s Bible or Bible storybook, or watch Bible-based media with them, explaining things when needed. Be consistent and make it fun, and your children will grow in faith and be less likely to be led astray by ungodly influences or search elsewhere for answers, because their lives will be built on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word.

Teach your children to be motivated by love. God wants us all to do what’s right, not out of fear of punishment but because we love Him and others and therefore want to do what’s right. If you’ve led your children to receive Jesus and taught them to love and respect Him and others, they will develop that loving motivation over time if given enough positive reinforcement.

You can teach your children from a very early age to put love into action by being unselfish and considerate of others’ feelings and needs. Jesus summed it up in Matthew 7:12, in what is now known as the Golden Rule. The following paraphrase makes a great starting place in teaching little ones to be motivated by love: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

Promote honest, open communication. If your children know that they can expect you to react calmly and lovingly no matter what, they will be much more likely to confide in you. And if you build a relationship of mutual trust and understanding while your children are small, they will be more likely to keep that line of communication open when they reach their preteen and teen years when their emotions and difficulties become much more complex.

Put yourself in your children’s place. Try to relate to your children on their level and not expect too much of them. Also remember that children tend to be more sensitive than adults, so it’s important to be extra considerate of their feelings. We all know how demoralizing it is to be embarrassed, hurt, or slighted by others, so realizing that such unpleasant experiences can be even more traumatic to children should cause us to do our best to spare them from such incidents.

Set a good example. Be the best role model that you can be—not by trying to appear perfect in your children’s eyes, but by being loving, accepting, patient, and forgiving, and by striving to demonstrate the other virtues and live the values you want your children to have.

Set reasonable rules for behavior. Children thrive when they know their boundaries and those boundaries are lovingly and consistently enforced. A demanding and irresponsible child becomes a demanding and irresponsible adult, so it’s important that children learn to take responsibility for their actions. The goal of discipline is self-discipline, without which your children will be at a great disadvantage later in school, the workplace, and social settings.

One of the best methods of establishing rules is to get your children to help make them, or at least to agree to them. It takes more time and patience to teach them to make the right decisions than it does to punish them for their wrong ones, but it goes a lot further.

Give praise and encouragement. Like the rest of us, children thrive on praise and appreciation. Build their self-esteem by consistently and sincerely commending them for their good qualities and achievements. Also remember that it’s more important and bears far better results to praise children for good behavior than to only scold or correct them for wrong behavior. Try to always accentuate the positive and your children will feel more loved and secure.

Love unconditionally. God never gives up on us or stops loving us no matter how far we’ve strayed, and that’s the way He wants us to be with our children.

Pray for your children. No matter how hard you try or how well you do at everything else, some situations will be beyond your control or require more than you have to give—but nothing is beyond God’s control or His power. Tap into His limitless resources through prayer. He has all the answers and can supply every need. “Ask and it shall be given.”2 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.”3

  1. Romans 10:17
  2. Matthew 7:7
  3. James 1:17