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Kids, Screens and Play

Driving home with our year-old grandson from New York’s Catskill Mountains last weekend, my wife and I recalled previous summer car rides, singing songs with our kids when they were young. We liked to sing Motown, the Beatles, and a country classic our daughter later recalled as “the hobo song” (“King of the Road”). In…

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Should Parents Punish Their Children?

For many parents, it seems almost instinctive to respond to a child’s uncooperative behavior by imposing (or threatening) a consequence. In recent sessions, parents have asked, “My twelve year-old daughter is late for school every morning. What consequence should I impose to get her to be ready on time?” or “She speaks to me rudely.…

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15 Rules to Foster Good Behavior in Children

In my last post, I presented general principles of good behavior in young children.  Today, I would like to follow up with specific recommendations – 15 rules that parents can use to help children learn to behave well (most of the time). 1)  Play (and work) with them often. This is the best way to…

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How to Have a Well-Behaved Child, Part 1

I believe that children should be well behaved. Most parents, of course, want more for their children than just good behavior.  We want them to become caring and responsible adults. Still, more often than not, children who are cooperative and respect adult authority are also happy and confident children.  They are able to bounce back…

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Why My Father Didn't Need Parenting Books

My father was a warm and generous man.  His passing, twenty years ago at age 85, remains a profound loss. As a boy, I looked up to him with admiration, even awe. When I was a teenager, we often argued.  (It was the sixties.  I believed that he was too cautious in his support for…

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How to Have Better Conversations With Your Children, Part 2

Young children are wide-eyed in their curiosity about the lives of their parents. For many years, I have advised parents to talk with their children about experiences in their own lives, especially when children are feeling worried, disappointed or sad.  Personal stories are helpful, for example, when children are anxious about their first day at…

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The Most Important Ten Minutes of A Child’s Day

In previous posts, I have discussed the importance of positive emotions in child development and offered some suggestions for how we can strengthen positive feelings in our children’s lives – how we can engage children’s interests, nurture a spirit of kindness and generosity, support their idealism, and share feelings of pride.  Positive emotions – especially,…

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Should Parents Praise Their Children?

In today’s post, I would like to return to a question that is controversial among parent educators and a source of confusion to many parents: Should parents praise their children?  In recent years, many thoughtful writers on parenting have argued against the use of praise. Alfie Kohn has been the most influential advocate for this…

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How to Avoid the Most Common Parenting Mistake

Last week, I discussed the problem of frequent criticism in families. In my experience, this is the most common cause of unhappiness in parent-child relationships – and of unhealthy outcomes for children. When parents are often critical of their children, children, in turn, become angry and argumentative, stubborn and defiant. When we argue frequently with…

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The Most Common Parenting Mistake

I am often asked, “What is the most common problem you encounter in your work with children and families?” For many years, my answer has been simple and unequivocal: “As parents, we are, unwittingly, too critical of our children.” This statement has surprised some of my colleagues and is at odds with much of the…

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