Principles for Transforming the Lives of Children


2001 by the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children
Permission granted to freely reproduce in whole or in part with complete attribution.


aTLC's Philosophy
Children are innately good, cooperative, and whole in spirit. Parents do the best they can at any given moment, within their present situation and life circumstances. Agreement on a set of guiding principles by all family members promotes enjoyable, confident parenting and provides children with a consistent, supportive environment.

aTLC offers the following evidence-linked Principles for promoting optimal human development. Our deep concern for children and parents is woven into each Principle. We invite you to ponder these Principles to motivate and inspire you. We encourage you to recognize and follow your intuitive knowledge and instincts. Our intent is to help you co-create with children a life that is practical, harmonious, and joyful.

  1. All children are born with inherent physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs that, when met, foster optimal human development.

  2. Every child needs to be securely bonded with at least one other person—optimally the mother.

  3. All children are by nature social beings, born with the drive to play, learn, cooperate with others, and contribute to their world.

  4. Each child carries within a unique pattern of development designed to unfold in accordance with the child's own rhythm and pace.

  5. Young children communicate their needs through behavior that is strongly influenced by innate temperament, early experiences, the behavior modeled by others, and current circumstances.

  6. The ability of parents and caregivers to nurture children is strongly influenced by their own birth, childhood, and life experiences.

  7. Children depend upon their parents and caregivers to keep them safe and to protect them from emotional and physical neglect, violence, sexual abuse, and other toxic conditions.

  8. A child who is nurtured in the womb of a healthy, loving, and tranquil mother receives the best possible start in life.

  9. A natural birth affords significant benefits to mother and baby; therefore, both the potential benefits and risks of any intervention warrant careful consideration.

  10. Breastfeeding, continual physical contact, and being carried on the body are necessary for optimal brain and immune system development, and promote the long-term health of the baby and mother.

  11. A father's consistent, meaningful, and loving presence in a child's life is significant to the child, father, mother, and the wellbeing of the family.

  12. Parents create a strong foundation for family life when they consciously conceive, foster, or adopt a child, and are committed to understand and meet the child's needs

  13. Single parents have a special need for a strong emotional and financial support system to effectively nurture their children.

  14. Political, economic, and social structures either enhance or diminish parents' opportunities to nurture and sustain a secure bond with their children.

  15. When children live in socially responsive families and communities, they receive a foundation for becoming socially responsible themselves.

  16. Effective parenting is an art that can be learned.

By implementing these Principles through Actions such as those suggested in the aTLC Blueprint, societies can transform themselves into dynamic, life-honoring cultures where children are loved, protected, respected, valued, and encouraged to joyfully participate in the vital life of family and community.

Links to aTLC core documents and extracts


Blueprint of Principles and Actions (complete)

(You may want to start with the following abridged versions for a quick overview)


Frequently asked questions about the Blueprint and Proclamation

Download printer-friendly (PDF) versions of aTLC's core documents.