Be a good listener. Make sure your child feels comfortable bringing problems or questions to you. Listen closely to what your child says. Don’t allow anger at what you hear to end the discussion. If necessary, take a 5-minute break to calm down before continuing. Take note of what your child is NOT saying too. If your child does not tell you about problems, take the initiative and ask questions about what is going on at school or in other activities.
Be available to discuss even sensitive subjects. Young people need to know that they can rely on their parents for accurate information about subjects that are important to them. If your child wants to discuss something at a time when you can’t give full attention, explain why you can’t talk, set a time to talk later, and then carry through on it!
Give lots of praise. Emphasize the things your child is doing right instead of always focusing on the things that are wrong. When parents are quicker to praise than criticize, children learn to feel good about themselves, and they develop the self-confidence to trust their own judgment.
Give clear messages. For example, when talking about the use of alcohol or other drugs, be sure you give your child a clear no-use message, so that the child will know exactly what is expected. Say, “In our family we don’t allow the use of illegal drugs, and children are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages.”
Model good behavior. Children learn by example as well as teaching. Make sure that your own actions reflect the standards of honesty, integrity, and fair play that you expect of your child.