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10 Ways to Parent Without Screwing Up Your Kid by Nick Seneca Jankel

Smelly diapers, sleepless nights, helping with homework, tackling meltdowns, wiping Nutella off every surface and giving cuddles whenever requested are just some of the joys of parenting. It’s possibly the greatest catalyst for personal growth that money cannot buy. It easy to want to tear your hair out and yell at your kids for their messy rooms when they are arguing over the iPad, but it can be avoided. With two kids under the age of five, I developed 10 golden rules for keeping peace in our home and love in our hearts.

  1. It’s All About Love
    Tell them you love them, authentically, and as often as you feel it. Don’t hold back. Hug them if they need a hug. Whisper into their ears—and so into their always listening, unconscious mind—that they are loved, unique, and a welcomed part of the universe with a right to be here.
  1. Little Einsteins
    Treat your kids as the smart, empathic, intuitive, and wise beings they truly are. See them as sources of surprising insight and switch on to their genius. Remember, they have lots to teach us.
  1. Dont be a Control Freak
    Temper the desire to control them and bend them to your will. Respect breeds respect; trust breeds trust. Understand that any irritating or frustrating behavior is often a natural and usually justified need that little ones wish to express. For example, whining usually arises when they feel ignored or powerless.
  1. Show Them The Way
    Guide them towards the behavior you want, just as you would expect from a respected colleague or friend. For example, try asking them to speak in their “strong” voice, rather than judge them for the whining.
  1. Be Real
    When you lose your patience with them make sure to apologize to them authentically, as you would to a colleague.
  1. Tell it Like it Is
    Honesty is the best policy, especially where the “big emotional stuff” is concerned—like breakups, people leaving, death, job loss, ill health, etc. Kids pick up on a “vibe” so explain things as honestly (and sagely) as possible so they don’t take on the problem or blame themselves. Children who are given empowering narratives tend to thrive.
  1. Connection Before Correction
    Realize children want to connect and play with you pretty much all of the time, especially when it is most inconvenient. Honor this delightful urge to have fun, to learn, whilst also ensuring you do what you need to do for you and the family.
  1. Model the Makeup
    When you argue with a partner, show them how to repair that connection. People tend to fight in front of their kids and can be moody afterwards. Most couples reconcile out of the view of their kids. Instead, show them all the ways we reconnect with love, hugs and kisses.
  1. Prioritize Emotional Intelligence
    Model how to share emotions, how to decode them, and how to understand the emotions of others. Using empathy, try to feel what they are feeling and test out your insights with them. They will feel “got”/understood or they will put you right if you don’t quite have it.
  2. Mirror Everything
    Reflect back everything they say so they know you get how they feel or what they’re thinking, and teach them how to mirror back to you. It ensures active listening on your part and helps them to feel safe, connected, less stressed, and more likely to co-operate and collaborate. If they are upset about something, repeat back to them what their gripe is and match feelings but with added wisdom. Validate something like this; “If I were you, I think I’d also be upset if X happened to me….”



nick_seneca_jannkel_150pxNICK SENECA JANKELis the father of two adorable boys and a wisdom teacher, social entrepreneur, and in-demand innovation and leadership expert with a triple First from the University of Cambridge in medicine and philosophy. He has advised multinationals (Nike, Microsoft, Disney) and social organizations (Oxfam, WWF), written for newspapers and magazines (including The Guardian and The Financial Times), and anchored a BBC TV series. Everything Nick does is centered on “switching people on”—helping individuals, teams and organizations break through old patterns and create a thriving future. He is a partner of WECREATE (, founder of Ripe & Ready (, and author of the book Switch On:How to Ignite Your Creative Spirit with the New Science of Breakthrough.