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Be Reasonable, Gentle, and Firm

Quantity Time, Quality Energy

Discipline is your parenting style in action. Remember that old debate about quality time versus quantity time? This just in: Both matter. You really need at least some quantity to achieve quality. If, on the other hand, you are together with your child all the time but never pay attention, there's no quality to your quantity. Arghhh! It's an issue of balance. I'm beginning to think it's all an issue of balance!

How can you get both quality and quantity into your busy life? It's not always easy. This is an insane time for most parents, and your schedule is probably stretched thin as it is. Don't waste valuable time feeling guilty: Prioritize! The more quality time you have in your life, the easier it will be to predict trouble.

It's a Good Idea!

How do you know if you're spending enough quantity and quality time with your child? Why not ask her?

  • Take an hour of your usual TV watching time to spend with your child (turn that set off!)
  • Include your child in your day-to-day errand running (keeping in mind your individual child's errand tolerance level—some like errands, some tolerate one, some three, and some hate them all). Use the transportation time to chat.
  • Instead of listening to the news, the traffic update, and music in the car, turn the radio off and listen to each other.

Let Your Child Do It

The strong, reasonable, gentle parent teaches self-reliance by expecting self-reliance and competence, and by letting children make mistakes. Trust that your child can do it. Show your trust, encourage progress, and don't “rescue” your child! If you constantly step in to save the day when a child is in a minor jam, he won't learn how to work his way out of his own problems. Sometimes this means letting small mistakes and minor disappointments happen. They're learning experiences. (Hey, I'm not saying abandon your baby to the wolves—just teach him how to avoid wolves, and then watch him do it, standing by in case of disaster.)

Tales from the Parent Zone

“The hardest thing about parenting is watching my son Ramsey stumble and fall and learn from his mistakes,” Lisa says. “But I know I'm not always going to be around to hold his hand through life.” Lisa is wise. As Dorothy Fisher once said, “A mother is not to lean on but to make leaning unnecessary.”

Words to Parent By

Unconditional love is love that has no conditions attached to it. The person loved unconditionally doesn't have to be anybody, or prove anything, or act in any particular way to be loved, and love is neither withdrawn for “bad” behavior nor bestowed for “good” behavior.

The Loving Parent

The most important aspect of being a strong and reasonable parent is showing unconditional love for your child. There's a tight correlation for children between experiencing unconditional parental love, and having a sense of self-respect. Unconditional love is loving a child for who she is no matter what she does or how well she succeeds in life. This kind of love promotes self-acceptance and self-confidence. The child who knows she's loved, who is encouraged, and who has experiences of mastery and success, will grow to respect and cherish herself. She'll have the tools to make positive choices all through life.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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