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In the years leading up to becoming a teenager, there are so many important development stages that we as parents should be taking full advantage of if we want to empower our kids to lead successful and happy lives. It is during this time that you can instill the values that will help them tackle life’s challenges.

While things like math and history are all fine and good- a major point of focus should be on the values you pass on to your children. During the ages preceding the teen years, your kids are like tiny little sponges. Those tiny little sponges want to learn everything they can learn, and if you harness that desire while they are young, there is so much you can teach them.

Here are 9 things you NEED to teach your kids before they turn 12.

1. To take responsibility for their actions.

In life, we all make the wrong decision from time to time, no matter how much we try to avoid it. When this happens, do you want your child to take responsibility or make excuses? If you want them to take responsibility- you need to model this behavior and hold them accountable for their own choices.

2. To make good choices.

Teach your child to make good choices. You can do this by helping them weigh things out. Ask them questions that encourage them to evaluate the different choices and how they impact their lives and others.

3. To understand the difference between right and wrong.

In life, there are some things that are right and some things that are wrong. You can debate this fact all day long, but the fact of the matter is- there are some things that ARE cut and dry. Instill values in your child, teach them what is right and what is wrong, and encourage them to contemplate the differences.

4. To be adaptable.

In life, being adaptable can get you very far. There will be times when things are simply not as we would like them to be. We can choose to quit when the going gets tough, or we can choose to find a way to make it work.

5. That failure isn’t the end.

A lot of parents freak out when their kids fail or make mistakes. Don’t do that, because the lesson you teach by doing that is that failure is the end. In reality-failure is a part of life. Help your kids to see the lessons in their failures and how to use them to bounce back in the face of adversity.

6. To be compassionate.

The lessons you teach your kids will determine the part they play in this world. Teaching compassion ensures that one more human in this world has empathy and cares for others. Instill this by teaching empathy and showing value in helping, serving, and caring for others.

7. To be patient.

Patience is absolutely a virtue. At first, your child will not easily learn patience. It takes time for this to develop. But, don’t give up.

8. To favor delayed gratification over instant.

In life, instant gratification has become so prevalent. With the click of a button, you can order whatever food you want, whatever music you want, whatever television you want, and whatever products you want. However, there is a virtue in prolonging gratification. Most things that come from instant gratification come with a price.

9. To forgive.

Forgiveness is a good thing to instill in your child. Start off by teaching this, by holding yourself accountable when you do something wrong that impacts your child. Always ask for forgiveness when you make a mistake.