Children need to have their own sense of personal integrity. “Love is not enough,” says Brazelton. “You have to give a child the chance to feel frustration, to stretch herself, to be able to say, ‘I did it. I did it myself.’ That’s self-esteem, and it’s a crucial element of raising a moral child.”
I’ve also discovered this powerful tool to help nudge children to the side of truth and justice: Say you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong. It sounds so simple, but every time I do it (which is pretty frequently), I see the shock and delight in their little faces, as if they’re thinking, “Even Mommy gets in trouble! Even Mommy has to grovel sometimes!” Because when I tell them I’m sorry, in one small phrase I show that I respect them, that I am willing to humble myself to the truth and that it’s OK to make a mistake. I also give them the opportunity to forgive me. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do.