Thursday, March 8, 2012

The ABC Building Blocks For Caregivers

What do children need from their caregivers?

Let's face it; kids don't come with an owner's manual. So part of my job as a school counselor is guiding caregivers - teachers included! - through the awesome experience of mentorship. It wasn't until I was asked to do my first parenting workshop and needed to give my session participants something tangible to take with them that I wrote these ABCs for educators, parents, grandparents, counselors, and mentors. This list is by no means exhaustive or set in stone; in fact, I'm revising, editing, adding and updating it all the time. With that in mind . . . 
What words of wisdom might you add?

A. Appreciate and affirm your children. Apologize when you mess up.
B. Be firm, fair, and consistent; be mindful that boundaries help kids grow stronger.
C. Choose logical and natural consequences - positive or negative.
D. Devote time to intentionally interact face-to-face every day. Be present, in the moment.
E. Encourage your children to pursue their passion with whatever it takes.
F. Forgive mistakes (yours and theirs!) and foster compassion in their hearts.
G. Give your children a secure, nurturing environment with LOTS of outdoor playtime.
H. Handle conflict with love; confront issues, CARE-front children.
I. Invite "I" messages: I feel ______ when you ______. I need _______.
J. Join (and enJOY) one another around the dinner table regularly.
K. Keep your promises; it'll teach your kids to be trustworthy friends.
L. Love unconditionally; children crave connection and comfort.
M. Model how you want them to behave; make footsteps worth following.
N. Negotiate when you can to empower your children and give them a voice.
O. Open your mind to all of your options and keep an optimistic outlook and attitude.
P. Parent with purpose, pick your battles and prepare your children for autonomy.
Q. Quit lecturing, yelling, hovering, and rescuing your kids.
R. Read together every day. Knowledge is power and readers are leaders.
S. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Let your YESes be yes and your NOs be no.
T. Treat kids with courtesy and respect and teach them to be caring and responsible.
U. Use your time with them wisely. Understand their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
V. Value them for who they are and volunteer with them so they learn to give back.
W. Wait for your children to respond before repeating what you said.
X. Xplore eXtra-curriculars, but be careful not to over-eXtend your children.
Y. Yearn to learn something new with your children every day.
Z. Zero in on the needs of the individual child; remember that fair doesn't always mean equal.

Click here to download a print-ready version of these ABCs to share with caregivers in your circle. Come by The Corner on Character for more character-infusion 
activities, suggestions and ideas.


  1. These are great!!! Thanks so much for sharing:)

  2. Love this! Thanks so much for an uplifting post with some motivation for doing one's best around children. Carolyn

  3. Great format and ideas, Barbara! Each suggestion is so important. I pinned your post to my Character Education Pinterest board at


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