When a baby is born, he or she is like a blank page upon which are written the experiences of life and from which emerges the values and much of the personality. Young children are fantastic under-studys as they carefully study the people around them and mimic what they see. Parents are amused and astounded by the vocabulary that their son or daughter is developing - well right up to the time when a colorful word or phrase is parroted in public or in their kindergarten classroom.
These little sponges are absorbing the world and all that they are exposed to. As parents, it is never too early to be mindful of the learning that is occurring and start to convey the right behaviors and examples. I see so many angry elementary children that have never learned a better way to express their feelings. Years of watching the behaviors of mom or dad yelling, pacing, throwing things and even being physically aggressive have instilled these forms of expression as normal. When your kids are around, perhaps you should think twice before telling little white lies such as "He's not home" when dad is sitting right there in the living room. You are modeling that lying is normal and an acceptable thing to do.
The largest mistake I chronically see parents make is not starting nearly early enough is teaching responsibility. It can be as simple as picking up toys and putting them in a basket when finished playing. Any toddler can learn this simple task. Toddlers crave positive interaction with those around them so lots of smiles and other symbols of happiness will instill this trait as natural and reasonable. By starting early, you significantly reduce the resistance and arguments that older children express when first expected to help out.
If a child has always had things done for them and they have never learned to help out and take care of their things, this is the recipe for a resilient sense of entitlement that runs rampant through preteens and teens. Wouldn't you fight anyone who wanted you to give up your household staff: the maid who cleans your room, the laundry worker who makes sure you have clothes, the chauffeur who takes you everywhere you want to go and the personal banker who buys what you want and think you need. Wouldn't you rebel if you were suddenly demoted from the lord or lady of the manor and expected to "work"? So many parents make the mistake of believing that taking good care of their children means doing everything for them. Nothing could be further from the truth!