33 Best Tips for Raising Mentally Strong Kids

33 Best Tips for Raising Mentally Strong Kids

Excerpted from Raising Mentally Strong Kids, by Daniel Amen, MD, and Charles Fay, PhD

Here are some of the best parenting techniques to increase your effectiveness. They will also help build what we call the Four Circles of Mental Strength, so your kids will have the foundation they need to achieve their potential.

We have gathered these “best things you can do for your child” over decades of working with both “difficult” and “not-so-difficult” children, teenagers, and young adults—and their parents.

We don’t expect you to follow all of the parenting strategies listed. Choose the ones that are the most appropriate for your situation.

Simple Parenting Tip: Remember what it is like to be a child (the good and the bad). Remember how you felt when you were their age. This will help you relate to their worries and concerns with empathy. Click To Tweet


  1. Remember what it is like to be a child (the good and the bad). Remember how you felt when you were their age. This will help you relate to their worries and concerns with empathy.
  2. Remember how it felt when your mom or dad were too busy for you.
  3. Remember what it felt like to tell a lie and how you wish your parents would have reacted when they found out.
  4. Remember how you felt when your parents fought with each other (do you fight in the same way with your spouse or the child’s other parent?).
  5. Remember how it felt when your mom or dad took you someplace special.
  6. Remember mealtimes when you were a child. Were they a positive experience (and why), or were they a negative experience (and why)?
  7. Remember how you felt at bedtime.
  8. Remember the first time you asked someone out on a date, or were asked out, and the intense anxiety and excitement that goes along with dating.
  9. Remember your sexual feelings and experiences as a child and teenager.
  10. Remember the worst teachers you had, so that you can relate to your kids when they complain about school.
  11. Remember the best teachers you had, so that you can tell your children how good school can be. 


  1. Develop clear, written goals for raising your children and spell out the kind of person you’d like them to become. Look at your goals every day to see if your behavior is encouraging what you want. In all of your interactions with your children, ask yourself if your actions encourage the behaviors you want.
  2. Be involved with your child. Ensure you spend enough time with them so that you can influence their direction.
  3. Be open with your child. Talk with them in such a way—active listening and empathy—that will help them talk to you when they need to.
  4. Be firm and set limits. Provide appropriate supervision and limits until they develop their own moral/internal controls.
  5. Be a good co-parent. Whether married or divorced, it is best when parents support each other in their interactions with a child.
  6. Be kind. Raise your children in such a way that they will want to come and see you after they leave home. Being a parent is also a selfish job.
  7. Be fun. Joke, clown, and play with your kids. Having fun is essential to both physical and emotional health. 


  1. Be relational. We live in a relational world. It is imperative to teach your children how to get along with others.
  2. Be responsible. Children need to believe and act as if they have some shared control over their own life—that when bad things happen it is not always someone else’s fault. Otherwise, they will act like a victim and have no personal power.
  3. Be independent. Allow your child to have some choices (shared control) over their own life. This will enable the child to be able to make good decisions on their own.
  4. Be self-confident. Encourage your child to be involved with different activities where they can feel a sense of competence. Self-confidence often comes from the ability to master tasks, sports, and activities.
  5. Be self-accepting. Notice more positive than negative in your child. This will enable them to accept themselves.
  6. Be adaptable. Expose your child to different situations so they will be flexible enough to deal with the various stresses that will come.
  7. Be emotionally healthy. Allow your child the ability to express themselves in an accepting environment. Seek help for your child if they show prolonged symptoms of emotional trouble.
  8. Be fun. Teach your child how to have fun and how to laugh.
  9. Be focused. Help your child develop clear goals for themselves (both short-term and long-term goals).  


  1. Authority is essential to maintaining order and structure in a family. The sixties generation lost the concept that authority is a good thing.
  2. Being firm with your child is not the same as being mean.
  3. Your child will respect you more if you believe you are supposed to be the authority in the relationship.
  4. Establishing authority (in a kind way) with a child enhances creativity. They know the boundaries and do not have to test them continually, leaving energy for more productive activities.
  5. Establishing authority (in a kind way) with a child will help them deal with authority as an adult.
  6. Mean what you say. Don’t allow guilt to cause you to back down on what you know is right.


 You will find 97 more of the best things you can do as a parent in the book Raising Mentally Strong Kids.

In the book, Raising Mentally Strong Kids, brain and mental health expert Dr. Daniel Amen and child psychologist Dr. Charles Fay have teamed up to reveal what’s missing from most parenting books. It’s the fact that you need to address both the brain and the mind of your child (and yourself) in order to be an effective parent and raise competent humans.

In this groundbreaking, science-backed book where neuroscience meets practical psychology, parents are given proven tools to help children of all ages go from defiance, meltdowns, and power struggles to being responsible, resilient, and confident. Order your copy now and put your child on the path to a brighter future.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of parents and children who have already learned how to be mentally stronger at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.  


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