Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Over the years, people have asked me to repeat my philosophy on parenting — as a parent and as a teacher — here it is in a nutshell.


During the years when I was teaching, the parents of my toddlers often asked for parenting advice.  Many of them were first time parents who were struggling with their child; however, some of the parents had several children and were confused because each child reacted differently to the same situation.

My first response is always — there is no magic potion to turn a person into a successful parent.  However, I strongly believe in my three “golden rules” for rearing children. I not only lived by them in my own home, I also carried this philosophy into my classroom.


Mom and Dad – you must always practice what you preach!  In other words . . . BE THE PERSON you want your child to be when he/she becomes an adult.  REMEMBER — You are your child’s first and most important role model.  He/She will follow your lead.

Take ownership for your actions. Admit when you’ve made a mistake and ask for forgiveness.  Always look your child in the eye when you apologize and say, “I’m sorry.”   Running parallel with this, be sure to teach ACCOUNTABILITY for THEIR ACTIONS and help them understand that their choices — their mistakes — have consequences and apologizes must follow.  

(NOTE: This philosophy also pertains when you say “Please” and “Thank You”   Make eye contact – adding a smile and/or a hug is a lovely bonus!)  Remember — good manners matter!

Teach your child that EVERY PERSON on earth is worthy of kindness and respect. 

Teach kindness — it is contagious!

Years ago, I heard an analogy about kindness and a toothpaste tube. Although I did not make this up – I definitely agree with the concept. 

A unique way to teach kindness is to ask a child to squish all of the toothpaste out the tube onto a plate and then ask the child to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Their immediate reaction is “I can’t put the paste back in the tube!”  Your response should be, “You are correct and remember your words are like toothpaste.  If you say something mean to a person, you cannot take your words back – so always be kind.” 

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I profoundly believe that people – ALL people – should be treated the same.  Do not label people by putting them in “categories” – which is instantly divisive.   EVERYONE is unique in his or her own way and individuals should not be ”branded” or “pigeonholed”. We are ALL human beings and worthy of each other’s respect and kindness.  

Be sure YOU are setting a good example by treating everyone equally!  (Of course, there is a huge “gray area” here — especially if a child and/or a teenager is confronted by a bully and/or a confrontational situation – that’s an additional article for another day.)

 (2) BE CONSISTENTThis is paramount! 

If you say “no” to something — stick to it — no matter how many times the child begs – don’t change your mind. Same goes if you say “yes.” 

For example, if you say “Yes.  We will go to the zoo” and it rains on that scheduled day . . . make sure you go to the zoo as soon as possible. 

If you say “No.  You can’t have that candy at the store’s checkout counter.”  Don’t change your mind because you fear an embarrassing temper tantrum. You are only setting yourself up for bigger — more frustrating — battles in the future.  If – in the toddler years — you stay consistent with your “yes” and “no” answers – you will need less discipline in the future.

Always keep your promise – if you do not think you can keep the promise – then do NOT make a promise.  Plus – do not lie to your children.  If they find out – then, you  have lost your credibility.

Children learn early how to “push your buttons.”  Try to keep from letting your child know what “bugs” you.  If a child knows, then he/she will play that “card” whenever he/she wants something. 

Be firm but gentle especially in the early years.  No need to raise your voice or spank in anger which gives the signal that you are “out of control” when – more times than not — a stern look or expression and a one word command can give a more receptive message to the child.   

In addition, Mom and Dad must parent AS A TEAM.  Even if in private Mom and Dad do not agree– they must appear to be a united front because kids instinctively know how to divide and conquer.

 Consistency is how children learn trust and gain confidence.  It is also how they see and set their boundaries.


Make sure you do not use your love as a “weapon” or a “reward” for good or bad behavior. You can let the child know you are “disappointed” in his/her  behavior/attitude/actions/reactions, etc . . . but make sure he/she knows . . . you will ALWAYS love him/her . . . no matter what!

Love Unconditionally

At an early age, teach your child to be proud of him/herself, not just about the things that make YOU proud but by doing those things that make him/her proud of his/her own accomplishments.  “Wow! You did a really good job on that. You must be very proud of yourself.”

Building your child’s confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

One More Thing Before You Go .. .

These three “golden rules” seem so very simple and relatively easy when written in a few short paragraphs . . . but it’s implementing them on a daily basis that makes it successful! 

I truly believe . . . if you live by these three difficult and challenging parenting suggestions . . . make them the foundation in your family . . . you will build confidence in your child and — hopefully — there will not be too much trouble with discipline in the years ahead.

Photo Collage by Tesa Jones

“Keep in mind . . . there is no ‘job’ on earth more challenging nor more rewarding than being a parent.  Enjoy the journey.” Tesa Jones

Article and Pictures by Tesa Jones

Photos courtesy of Tesa Jones

Tesa Jones is a graduate of Elon College, now Elon University, a mother of two, a grandmother of five, and she currently resides in Mooresville with her husband. She is a published author, an avid blogger, and a passionate photographer. Learn more about Tesa Jones at and contact her via:

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