1. Pattern right responses. Children will react to situations the way that they see their parents respond. If you want polite, respectful, happy children - model this by the way you respond to your trials and stressful situations.
2. Seize teachable moments. Rather than just punishing your child, teach them about why they could have made a better choice.
3. Become students of your child. Study them. Watch them. Try to understand why they do and say the things they do. Not only will you get a good laugh, but you might not come down so hard on them when they do make the wrong choice.
4. Keep them talking. Encourage your children to talk to you from a very early age. A child who engages in conversation will be an adolescent who engages in conversation.
5. Balance truth and grace. Keep your heart sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading. There are times when a child just needs to be shown grace.
6. Distinguish between defiance and crazy kid things. Kids are kids and they do crazy things. My daughter got into lipstick the other day and covered herself from head to toe (and from carpet to couch and anywhere else her little hands could go to). Was this an act of defiance or just her being a kid? Choose your battles wisely.
7. Teach internal control vs. external control. Model for your children how to control your emotions so that they do not cause you to sin.
8. Encourage kids to be the age that they are. Are you expectations too high for your eight year old? Tell them to go play, have fun, relax!
9. Guard their hearts. Protect them from anything evil or perverted. Sacrifice your own relaxation for theirs. In other words, turn the TV off if you know it's something they should not be watching. Quite frankly, a good majority of the shows on prime time are probably inappropriate for school age kids.
10. Be purposeful in prayer. Pray specifically for your children. It's not too early to start praying for their spouses or their future career choices. You are their biggest prayer warrior! Write your prayers down and see how God answers them.
I personally need to work on #2 and #10. I miss teachable moments so often because I'm tired and stressed, and all I can focus on is giving the punishment. Teaching my children requires intentionality and time. I need to be less focused on what I need to get done and more focus on the whole reason I stay at home: to disciple my children. I also need to be more specific in my prayers for my children. I often just pray a blanket pray of protection and blessing. I want to start praying specifically for my children's marriage partners and their future friends, children, jobs, etc. What do you need to work on? Which "tip" struck a cord in you?