Youngsters are spoiled rotten, haven’t any sense of duty, and provides perspective: It is all of your fault; what are you going to do for me right now?” The solution? Quit overprotecting kids and send them to the school of hard knocks; throw in some spanking too; it’ll make them successful.And then there’s the opposite advice. Consequences and rewards are punishment. They’re not good for kids and amount to withholding your love. Parents need to avoid at all costs a kid feeling bad. It’s conditional love and kids need unconditional love.That’s the confusing advice parents face when it comes to raising kids, the most demanding and complex job anyone can do. And nobody wants to mess up their kid. So what’s a parent to do?Use a hybrid approach. Mix together both the school of hard knocks and unconditional love approaches; they both have some good points. It really works, based on my more than forty years as a child mental health counselor. We’ll first do a little classroom work and end with the hybrid approach demo.Kids 101: Three Must-Know Facts About Kids 1. Kids do not want to feel bad when they get into trouble, they want to feel good, liked, and accepted (don’t we all?). That’s the most common concern I’ve heard, one way or another, from more than 2,500 kids I’ve counseled.When a kid makes a mistake, he automatically feels he’s a bad person. If it happens too often, he’ll establish a belief that he is bad-not a good thing. Kids can’t separate their mistakes from who they are as a person. Why? All too often parents focus their frustration only on the problem and do not add a dash of understanding. (I’ll cover what parents can do about this in just a minute.) Should a kid feel remorse for a mistake? Absolutely. But the bad-person part is overkill, decreases self-confidence, and needs to be avoided as often as possible.2. Kids need firm, consistent, respectful limits, and they need to be allowed to fail and learn from their mistakes. The need to be liked and valued is a kid’s biggest motivator in life. Learning acceptable behavior, right from wrong, healthy ways to think, and how to handle failure is essential for being liked by others and to feel confident about oneself.It’s hard for parents to see a kid upset when limits are set (more than a third of parents don’t set limits for that very reason, according to a recent study). Being upset about change is to be expected. But rest assured, down deep inside a kid knows acceptable behavior is the way to go.3. Feelings cause behavior. Adam hits his sister. He’s angry and handles the feeling by hitting. Jamie doesn’t do her homework. She’s failed at several subjects, is super discouraged, and handles her discouragement by giving up. If the feelings aren’t dealt with, the problem will get worse and self-confidence will decrease.Parents 101: Beware of Three Parenting Tendencies That Don’t Work 1. Parents assume their kid is a “mini me.” Liz is a drama queen but Mom is quiet and reserved. Mom continually gets frustrated and their relationship deteriorates. When personalities are different, parents need to fit more into their child’s personality, and, of course, Mom needs to help Liz to not act like royalty all the time.2. Parents focus almost exclusively on the problem during discipline and miss the feelings causing the problem. When feelings are missed, a kid feels misunderstood. Mixing in understanding feelings with discipline causes kids to feel valued as a person even when they mess up and need to correct their behavior.3. Parents often use excessive anger (face, tone, mean words) to get their kids to change their behavior. But this approach gets in the way of kids getting the best you have to offer. Of course you’re going to blow it sometimes, and a stern look, words, and voice are essential when you are training your child for good behavior. But too much frustration causes kids to feel bad about themselves. Thinking through something doesn’t work when there’s too much frustration. Just leave the room and come back when you’re calmer.Now for the hybrid approach in action.Ten-year-old Aaron lies and says there’s no math homework (this has been going on for a month). His dad first asks why Aaron’s lying (feelings first = unconditional love). Aaron’s given up in math, and by asking questions, Dad finds out a lot of reasons for Aaron’s giving up. Even though Aaron doesn’t want a tutor, Dad makes it a requirement (hard knocks).Sixteen-year-old Amber frequently blows up at her mother with a few swear words mixed in when Mom confronts her about chores not done or excessive texting. Instead of arguing, Mom changes her tactic. She hears Amber out, repeats what Amber says (without “buts”). Then Mother helps Amber by making some understanding feedback and altering the chore schedule to higher meet Amber’s wants (emotions first). Then Amber’s informed her cellular phone shall be taken away for 2 days for each swear phrase (onerous knocks).Whew! The educating and coaching a part of parenting is grueling! Utilizing the hard-knocks method is important, however make certain your child feels valued and accepted.