The information presented here is the best of what is known from research about how to prepare children and teens to thrive and become healthy, productive adults who can make good choices about their own lives. You can start by viewing this video by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It provides an overview of this topic and introduces his “7 Cs” Model of Parenting. After viewing the video, click on each of the topics below to learn more about how to help your child build strength in the 3 “Cs” highlighted on this site: Competence, Connection, Character.

Competence is the ability to handle situations effectively. Competence is something all of us get through experience. Children can’t become competent without first developing a set of skills that allows them to trust their judgments, make responsible choices, and face difficult situations.

Questions to ask yourself about your child’s competence:

  • Do I help my child focus on their strengths and build on them?
  • Do I notice what they do well or do I focus on their mistakes?
  • When I need to point out a mistake, am I clear and focused or do I communicate that they always mess up?
  • Do I help them recognize what they have going for themselves?

Connection means having close ties with family, friends, school, and the community. These relationships create a solid sense of security that produces strong values and prevents destructive behaviors.

Questions to ask yourself when considering how connected your child is:

  • Do we build a sense of physical safety and emotional security within our home?
  • Does my child know I love and support them more than anything?
  • Am I prepared to recognize that my child will put me through challenges on their path toward independence, and to deal with those challenges as normal developmental phases? Or will I take them so personally that it harms my relationship with my child?

Character is a fundamental sense of right and wrong that guides a person’s ability to make wise choices, to make contributions to the world, and to achieve stability through adulthood.

Questions to ask yourself about supporting your child’s growth into an adult with strong character:

  • Do I help my child understand how their behaviors affect other people in good and bad ways?
  • Am I helping my child to recognize themself as a caring person?
  • Do I allow them to consider right versus wrong and look beyond immediate satisfaction or selfish needs?
  • Do I express how I think of others’ needs when I make decisions or take actions?