1. Be actively involved with your kids’ activities. Spend your time with them in their element. Be a coach or a leader for their sports or other activities. Attend their performances and games. Volunteer. Cheer for them. Help with their homework. Read to and with them. Play with them! You can do different things with kids at each age.

2. Appropriately compliment kids for their good effort or results. You don’t have to say nice things only if they "win". Give them positive support for their effort and encourage them to keep trying. Winning is great, but it’s also fun just to play. Make sure the kids know that you are proud of them whether they win or loose.

3. Appropriately compliment the other parent. Make nice comments to the other parent and around the kids.  You don’t have to lie or be insincere, but there’s always something nice you can say. If you can’t think of something nice to say, don’t say anything.

4. Focus on the good. Whether it is your child’s grades, an art project, effort in cleaning their rooms, riding a bike, playing well with others, etc. let them know that you are pleased with them. At any age, you can find something a child is doing well and show appreciation. If you reinforce good behavior by complimenting it you are more likely to see it more often. Don’t dwell on what a child is doing wrong all the time. Give them something to remember that you praised them for and they will strive for it.

5. Encourage kids to volunteer and serve others. Making a spirit of volunteerism and helping a part of the kids’ upbringing, so that it seems a natural and normal part of life, is one of the best things you can do for kids. Everyone, at some time, will need help from others. It’s a good idea to "pay it forward" –donate help in advance.

6. Talk about the best part of the day with your kids. It helps them (and you) focus on the good things that happen. You and your children will feel better if you think about the positive things, rather than just dwelling on what went wrong during the day. Developing this habit can help elevate everyone’s mood.

7. Remember that kids see what you do and hear what you say. They really pay attention to what you do and say (and how you say it). You will probably see some of your actions and habits in their behavior. You certainly want to see your children doing good things, so you need to set an appropriate example. Try to be a good role model in the things you say and do.

8. Learn to appreciate kids’ music, books and games. Not everything they like is going to be worth while, but it is too easy for parents to overlook or downplay kids’ culture. Parents should look for what matters in their kids’ lives. If you show a genuine interest in your kids’ activities and interests, you can be more of a factor in their lives. You will be better able to relate to them and enjoy time with them.

9. Encourage friendships and sharing. This can be done in part by setting a good example, but you may have to explain things to children periodically about sharing as they get older. Do what you can to make it possible for them to do things with their peers so they can develop friendships. Equally as important, don’t put up barriers that inhibit the kids from being able to participate in activities with friends who are important to them.

10. Be a good host. When your kids want to have friends over, make it possible. You may need to have a supervisory role, which will vary according to the age of the children, but help your children out when you can. Get to know their friends and welcome them to your home. It’s always better to have them hanging out at your house as apposed to roaming the streets.


Hat tip to Dick Price for his December 1, 2008 post

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 30+ years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 30+ years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW for multiple years. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.