1) Love your child's mother/father

If you really love your child and would do anything for of him or her, then one of the best things you can do to really make them happy is to love their mother/father.

When a child sees the respect and love that one parent has for another parent — when s/he hears things like, "Let's go together and buy flowers for Mom" or "Let's all wait and have dinner together when Dad comes home" — this gives the child an unbelievable sense of security knowing that the two most important people in his or her life are in harmony with each other. It also gives the child a living example: "If my mother respects my father and my father respects my mother, then how much more so should I, as a child, respect both of my parents."

2) Don't say "No" when you mean "I don't know"

The number one lesson in sales courses is that when the prospective client says "No" the salesperson should interpret that as, "Not now, but try again later".

A mother recently told me that her ten-year-old daughter knows this secret without attending any courses. It looks like she's naturally gifted. When she wants something and her parents say "No", she simply keeps on nagging until they say "OK".

I explained to the mother that her daughter was not naturally gifted but that her parents have taught her this behaviour. Children are very fast learners and they implement their learned ideas very quickly.

Sometimes it's not even because we're not firm enough in our decisions, but because our original "No" was not really a "No" in the first place. A child may sometimes put us on the spot with a request when we're not sure ourselves as to what our response should be. So we instinctively say "No" only because we're not prepared to say "Yes".

In such instances, an answer like, "Let me think about it" or "I need some more time to decide on that one" should satisfy a child. This gives you the time to think about it and when you finally give your answer, whether the answer is "Yes" or "No", make sure that this is your final decision. The child will then quickly learn that "No" means "No" and will soon learn to accept it.

3) Be positive

A mother came to see me with her 15-year-old daughter who was very rebellious and showed no respect for her parents, teachers or others in authority. The girl seemed very fearful of the outside world and her rebelliousness was obviously a cover-up for her fear.

After further investigating the family patterns, it became apparent that a large part of the family conversations, which the girl had heard from a very young age, were about other people and their imperfections. Her mother was very critical of others and was always emphasizing and magnifying the shortcomings of people in their family and in their community circle; this included uncles, aunts and cousins, as well as the teachers and principals of the school where her children attended.

Children at a young age see things in black and white and believe everything their parents tell them: "If my parents say so that must be the ultimate truth." If, like this girl, they hear only negative attitudes, they may develop a lack of trust in others, a failure to create and maintain close relationships, which could, eventually, lead to a low self-esteem.

In a vicious circle, children who have low self-esteem and don't think much of themselves will often have very negative opinions of others — that's the only way they know of "bettering" themselves. In contrast, those who have good self-esteem tend to talk about things or concepts rather than about other people.

If and when the subject of other people is raised in your home, direct your comments towards giving others the benefit of the doubt and seeing the good in them. That is how your children will learn to regard others — and themselves.