We all know that no words can express the life difference between a child who grows up with a healthy and dignified sense of self and a child that grows up without. It is night and day. It affects every decision and action a person chooses to make. Damage in this area is extremely difficult to undo because you are dealing with the self itself.

Therefore, it is often good to err on the side of permissiveness; whenever possible, to allow for children to make their own decisions, and then to note and cherish them for their unique traits and qualities. This is like water to their personas and will help them to grow and flourish into fulfilled versions of themselves.

In fact, the more you notice and identify the good points about a child, the more the child comes to identify with those points and to strengthen them. The more you relate to a child as an espouser of those positive qualities, the more the child appreciates his own uniqueness and gifts, comes to healthily love himself, and grows up balanced and happy to be alive.

Search within the child to find a good trait to emphasize.

This is what parenting is all about – positivity and proactive building. There is no wisdom in reactively cutting up a kid and his behavior in order to fit him into a mold. Yet there is great wisdom and creativity in searching within the child to find a good trait to emphasize, thereby building the child's self-perception and esteem.

When a parent does this, the child will commit to that parent. This is because the child feels you "get" him. You see the value in him. You see his uniqueness and you view it as a good thing. He is an asset to be celebrated, not a liability that is tolerated.

This is a breath of fresh air for a child. It is life – because you have gotten to his essence.

By noting, cherishing, and celebrating these positive points of a child, you are recognizing the child as a soul. Only the points of goodness that a person exudes are reflective of the Godly soul at his/her core. Thus, even if the majority of a child's actions are negative, that says nothing about the truth of that child since the reality of who he is only comes forth in the goodness.

When a parent relates to a child with this in mind, the entire interaction is different. The parent rises above the smallness of the misdeeds of the child's behavior and deals with the child as if those misdeeds are outside of who the child really is. One's entire demeanor toward the child sends the message that they both know deep down that the child is really good, and any negativity is external to the child's identity.

The more you relate to a child as an espouser of those positive qualities, the more the child appreciates his own uniqueness and gifts, comes to healthily love himself, and grows up balanced and happy to be alive.

Couch Acrobatics

Having understood this, it is no wonder that a parent who does not take on this approach gets the teenager who says, thinks, or feels, "You don't understand me." This means "You don't see my specialness and my uniqueness... you don't properly value what I bring to the table."

What the child is trying to convey is "you don't get my essence" – and, of course, in such a case the child is correct.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon every parent to take a step back and find the greatness and the uniqueness inherent in each of his or her children, to complement the child and reinforce it, and to build the child up.

This even applies to finding "the good in the bad" – to compliment the artistic skills of the child who draws on the wall and the athletic abilities of the child as he jumps from couch to couch with muddy shoes on.

Once a child's essence is validated, modifications become much easier.

If we succeed in seeing the goodness as the true reflection of who they are, and continuously build them up, then it will be much easier getting them to do draw on paper or take their shoes off before couch acrobatics. Once a child's essence is validated and cherished, everything else comes to be seen as external by you as well as the child – and therefore much easier to maneuver and modify.

It is said that "People only change once they feel accepted as they are." I'm not sure if this is absolutely true for all people, but it is certainly true with children. You might be able to intimidate or manipulate your child into behaving or not behaving in a certain way, but that is not true change. That is an act of external behavior amputation rather than an internal personality graduation.

Only when there is a real recognition and acceptance of the child as an individual of value and worth, can our children healthily grow and progress into the higher versions of themselves. And isn't that the goal of parenting?

Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is the best-selling author of Jewish By Choice and The Case for Judaism. His latest release Parent By Choice leaves parents refreshed and inspired; invigorated and motivated to raise their parenting game to a whole new level.