Saturday, February 4, 2012

The 7 Secrets of Successful Parents: Part 3

The 7 Secrets of Successful Parents:
Tips 4 and 5 

By Marianne Neifert, M.d.

According to an article from, Marianne Neifert's life has been devoted to children and families -- her own, and those she's encountered in her career as a pediatrician. Her first baby was born only a few months before she started medical school, and her fifth child arrived seven years later, on the final day of her pediatric residency. These two paths -- medicine and motherhood -- have been inextricably intertwined; they've often enhanced -- and sometimes competed with -- one another.

But over the years, as she has helped her own children journey into young adulthood and worked with countless families in her career, she has gained some hard-earned perspective and insights into raising kids. No parent will have all the answers all of the time, but these simple parenting guidelines can help make your time together as a family that much richer.

The best way to help teach your child to distinguish right from wrong is by setting clear limits and enforcing them consistently. If you feel as though you're slipping into a power struggle, step back: Give your child a time-out or simply tell her you'll deal with her in a few minutes -- and don't decide on a punishment until you're more calm.

When she does break the rules, respond in a way that won't deal a blow to her self-esteem: Ignore attention-getters like whining; give a brief warning or scolding for minor infractions (such as jumping on the furniture); issue an age-appropriate time-out to stop aggressive or antisocial behavior (like biting and hitting); and use logical consequences, such as putting their toys aside for a day whenever your kids fight over them.

But discipline isn't just a question of punishment. It's also about modeling positive behavior -- like remembering to say "please" and "thank you" to teach your child the value of manners -- and praising her when she's been cooperative and helpful. By spending extra time with your child, you can minimize whining and other misbehaviors triggered by a need for attention.

One of the best gifts you can give your child is to help him understand that he's responsible for the choices he makes as well as the consequences of his actions, and ultimately, his own happiness. The first step toward building self-reliance: Offer your child choices that are right for his age. Toddlers are capable of picking what they want for breakfast or which shirt to wear (as long as you give them two choices). A 3-year-old can also pitch in and do simple chores -- helping you pick up toys or unload the dishwasher, for instance. Delegating these tasks not only lets your preschooler make a contribution to your household, but teaches him accountability.

The next step: Encourage your child to tackle new skills, like riding a trike or reading a story aloud. If he makes mistakes, let him work through them instead of rushing in to fix things. You'll promote a sense of competence, and he'll learn to weigh consequences before acting.

When he faces inevitable setbacks and failures, help him discover how to look for solutions rather than view such obstacles as beyond his control. If your toddler cries when another child takes his toy, for example, say, "Let's go see if she'll give it back." Or if your preschooler tells you he has no friends, you can show him, through role-playing, ways to ask other kids to play, or together invite someone to come visit.

Lastly, encourage your child to think, even if his opinions differ from your own. You'll free him from a fear of disapproval that will make him less dependent on others for his happiness.

Come back tomorrow and read about tips 6 and 7 on how to be a successful parent.


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